/ Glenn Fleishman / 8 am Sat, Jun 22 2013
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  • Kickstop: how a sleazebag slipped through Kickstarter's cracks

    Kickstop: how a sleazebag slipped through Kickstarter's cracks

    Pick-up artists are, sadly, a community. It even has a handy three-letter abbreviation: PUA. It dates back to the 1970s and has been enabled and expanded, like all affinity groups, by the Internet's network effect. In the last week, I suspect that tens of millions of people, if not more, have become aware of the extent of the subculture due to a Kickstarter campaign for a book about applying PUA stratagems.

    A guy not involved in that community spotted the project and raised an objection in a blog post in its closing hours due to what he said was material intended for the book but not posted on Kickstarter that advised forms of sexual assault. Kickstarter declined to halt the campaign; it funded; Kickstarter then apologized and made changes. Was the writer correct about sexual assault? Are PUAs misunderstood? Did Kickstarter under-, then overreact?

    It all has to do with the social ineptness or downright sociopathy of those playing the PUA "game," and how their inability to have the empathy and understanding of those they wish to attract also prevents them from understanding why this book could possibly be seen as a guide to escalating contact all the way to sexual assault.

    The author does not believe or understand that he advocates sexual assault, and is thoroughly confused as to why his writing has been interpreted this way. It is also clear that many, many of the PUAs who post on boards do not see the suggested behavior or their own (ostensible, reported) behavior along those lines.

    But that doesn't excuse nor condone the advice.

    (Note to all you knowledge hipsters: you knew about PUA in the 1800s, of course. Most people didn't have this awareness. I've been talking to otherwise well-informed people for days who thought pick-up artistry died in the 1980s or was the subject of remainder-bin and low-selling, self-published books.)

    Ports and protocols

    PUAs are nearly exclusively men focused on soliciting women for the purposes of sex without resorting to payment. The PUA world applies algorithms, testing and feedback, and gamification to human interaction, turning women into not just sexual objects but essentially treating that cisgendered biological configuration as a Turing-complete machine in which specifying the right sequence of inputs results in access to specific ports and protocols.

    In this case, the vagina is typically the desired port, with other orifices of interest as well. Working one's way through various handshaking protocols and debugging the process of obtaining port access is part of the game. Vaginas have points attached based on various primary and secondary sexual attributes related to "hotness." Some operators obtain status through alleged accomplishment — there is no gameboard with verified scores — and participants in the culture actively exchange tips and advice.

    Most of us of any gender and orientation have likely only heard vaguely and contemptuously of PUA as a concept, even though we are aware of the notion of pick-up lines, and perhaps even knew of books that promise the answers to get into a woman's pants. Before a few days ago, I had some sense there was a PUA community, and had occasionally read through a forum, was amused and appalled by it, and moved on.

    I thought it was more like frat-boy culture, which involves less rigor and testing, and mostly comprises situations in which alcohol, drugs, and peer pressure are used to blur the line between interest and consent, and which leads frequently to tacit or explicit assault, whether reported or not.

    The PUA seems something other, though. PUAs aren't typically an overlap with the frat-boy stereotype of athletes and aggression. Rather, PUAs are social misfits who appear to be incapable of reading and responding to social signals. Just as the Ana subculture arose on the Internet extolling anorexia, which is medically and socially unacceptable even as the body image associated is perpetuated through media, the PUA subculture seems to thrive because it's found a home in which such discussions are encouraged and cultivated.

    And it is undeniable to these men that women meet other men and then, immediately or after a number of dates, engage in sexual concourse with them. Why not them? It must not be their personality, pheromones, conversational style, or appearance. There must be a secret that some men have that they have missed, and thus a culture of tips, tricks, and strategies develops.

    As Doctor Nerdlove, a former PUA adherent named Harris O'Malley, explains to Alyssa Rosenberg in an interview on Think Progress,

    …the pick-up community promises to take men and turn them into sex gods with Terminator vision, able to seduce any woman they want. For a lot of people, that sounds like it will fill the hole in their lives.

    The Kickstarter campaign seems to have opened up the subculture to intense scrutiny as it's now been covered by media of all sorts and around the world. The funds were being raised to pay the cost of turning a set of posts called "Above the Game," into a book. They were already part of a subreddit: /r/seduction. The moderator, TofuTofu (Ken Hoinsky), is the author of the posts and the creator of the project.

    (For non-Redditors, subreddits are essentially sub-sites within the Reddit infrastructure that have their own rules and moderators. Subreddits came to general culture prominence in October 2012, when Adrian Chen of Gawker unmasked Violentacrez, a Redditor — not an employee of Reddit — who created Jailbait, a site devoted to sexualized photos of girls typically below the age of 16, among other trollish and potentially illegal subreddits. Most subreddits aren't horrible!)

    The campaign was well on its way to concluding with over $16,000 raised towards a $2,000 goal when Casey Malone posted an item on his (self-described) lightly trafficked blog about it. Casey followed links from the tame Kickstarter campaign back to the original Reddit posts. He was appalled. His post explains how he thought the entire project was eyerolling until he read the Reddit posts and found advice that, as the chapters progressed, sounded to him increasingly like advocating sexual harassment and assault.

    Malone advised people to use the "report" feature on the Kickstarter campaign page to bring it to the company's attention, as well as to tweet at them and use other means. Kickstarter responded to Malone with a statement that while the material was "abhorrent and inconsistent with our values as people and as an organization," its current policy didn't allow them to cancel the project.

    The project completed successfully and was funded.

    Only yes means yes

    A critique of Hoinsky's book and his subreddit posts that categorically calls them rape manuals, or says they solely suggest and encourage sexual assault, is that it misses the mish-mash of advice that he provides.

    Some of it is even perfectly reasonable: advice about striking up conversations, progressing with consent, providing physical pleasure to a partner before asking it for yourself, and maintaining a healthy relationship when you find the right person.

    Mixed in, however—sometimes in the same sentence—are appalling recommendations that pretend to be scientifically based and generalize certain forms of behavior. Men should use conversation as a "weapon" to keep women off base. Men should use "negs," statements designed to make a woman seek out self-assurance from the passive-aggressive asshole using them. Real interaction is to be avoided. This is a game. You're left-right-down-down-down-down'ing your way to success.

    Pick-up artists are advised to act like high-school boys who have never interacted with an adult woman, or possibly even one their own age. But, also, to cherish them — which is itself a form of displacement, paternalism, and objectification.

    One of my friends, in his 20s, fell into this scene in the pre-Internet age. One night, at a restaurant, he attempted to demonstrate the strategy on a waitress. It was creepy. She wasn't having any of it. He lacked the tools to read her signals. I stopped hanging out with him.

    Then there is outright assault. The PUA should pull a woman onto his lap or try to kiss her without any interest being exhibited, according to Hoinsky. Men should pull a women's hair back while they're kissing. PUAs are supposed to "physically escalate" continuously. After achieving some measure of intimacy, a man should pull out his penis and force a woman to put her hand on it.

    Undesired, non-consensual, coercive physical contact of this nature is sexual assault. The ambiguity for PUAs appears to stem from the fact that women sometimes give post-facto or tacit consent for behavior that goes over the line — or simply don't report them to a bouncer at a nightclub, or call the police.

    Mutually consensual behavior initiated by either party isn't assault, of course, nor does it have to be spoken aloud. But it requires the ability to read signals and respond to them to know whether consent exists, and to stop — not "escalate" — when there's ambiguity. This category of book provides the excuse for consent to men who can't read signals. The book is advising sexual assault under the guise of something the woman wants but can't ask for. That's not consent.

    Shards of insight

    I was an awkward youth, and I identify all too well with the longing you can find in the posts on PUA boards. I barely dated in high school and college.

    Reading parts of Hoinsky's posts, I had some aha! moments about some of the short relationships I'd had. Hoinsky picks apart the issue of touch, and how it plays into general and sexual attraction: how cisgendered, heterosexual men send cues and women of the same sexual alignment respond to them. (I can't speak of transgender or homosexual attraction, and assume there are broad points of similarities, and many subtle differences.)

    His approach of treating sex as the ultimate goal of every encounter, of forcing escalation and pressure, is wrong. But there is a glimmer of truth in the centrality of touch to courtship.

    I thought back to a relationship in college, where we shared a clear mutual interest. We had a few polite dates. I often wondered later why we failed to ignite. There was a lack of physical contact. I was quite passive; she likely took this as disinterest.

    By the end of college, though, I developed a more intuitive grasp of other people's feelings, whether romantic or otherwise. Part of that was reaching out to meet a hand ready to reach out to mine. Not grasping, forcing, pushing.

    Many romances begin with a touch, with a clasp of hands, with a kiss. About that, he is right.

    On an early date with my partner of nearly 16 years, I remember dropping her off at home. As she sat in the passenger seat, I took her mittened hands in mine, and said some goopy thing about how much I liked her. I can remember everything: the feel of the yarn on my hands, the look in her eyes, the cool air, the pounding of my heart.

    Taking her hands was a significant moment that led to our many years of happiness and our two wonderful children. They were born, partly, by my reaching out in a moment of a mutual consent.

    A touch, I don't confess it

    Hoinsky writes,

    A man is on a date with a woman. The man fails to touch the girl and only goes in for the kiss at the end of the night. He goes home alone. His internal dialogue says, "WTF why won't girls hook up with me? I guess I'm in the friend-zone again."

    Meanwhile, the woman goes home, confused, wondering if the guy likes her. Her internal dialogue says, "I thought that was a date. I guess he just wants to be friends?"

    Since sex is the prize here, Hoinsky focuses that this putative fellow "goes home alone." He also advises in the next paragraph, "ALWAYS BE ESCALATING!"

    It is this misinterpretation, like looking through a distorted lens, that leads to the biggest dissonance between what Hoinsky and PUAs think of as consent—actually sexual assault—and what actual consent is.

    Casey Malone's initial objection, which were taken up by many others, is that Hoinsky and the PUA community define consent as whatever one gets away with. Malone quotes a passage from the Reddit posts:

    Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.

    Hoinsky responded a bit on his TofuTofu Twitter account and via a Pastebin-hosted message. He objects to material being "taken out of context." But it rings hollow. He points to one section as the most controversial (it was one of several in truth) as being appropriate only, "what to do AFTER a man has met a cute girl, gotten her phone number, gone on dates, spent time getting to know her, and now are alone behind closed doors fooling around."

    He reproduces the section in whole to show how it's been taken out of context. I will, as well:

    If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:

    "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with."

    Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You'll be no different. If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later.

    Of course if you're really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry.

    It is a matter of some interest that Hoinsky doesn't see the remarkably mixed messages here. By recommending behavior that will almost certainly result in a negative reaction, he defines sexual assault. The consent that comes later, if it comes later, is secondary. By using repetitive coercion, we're at the legal definition.

    "Take a break and try again later." No doesn't mean no to the PUA. Yes apparently never enters in the equation at all.

    For men who turn to PUA sites and books, who lack emotional maturity or experience with women, these rules blur the line between consent and attack. For sociopaths and narcissists, these recommendations allow them to justify their actions. This is advice that reassures men along the path to physical assault and rape.

    Escalator clause

    Kickstarter received a lot of criticism over a couple of days about this. I have written about the company for over three years, and believe that it is full of people with a remarkable amount of interest in helping others. This seemed like a significant misstep on its part.

    A day after the project funding, Kickstarter issued a mea maxima culpa that was also a bit of an apologia.

    You can read the company's words, but the summary is: we were paralyzed in the couple hours we had between it coming it our attention and funding. We're sorry.

    Some questioned whether Kickstarter could have halted disbursement of funds, but as I understand it, that's not possible. As a creator, Kickstarter links you to Amazon Payments, where you agree to give them a 5% cut. But the creator gets the money directly. When a project funds, Kickstarter triggers the payment rules, and Amazon starts charging cards.

    I don't know the ins and outs here. Kickstarter says it can't reverse that. Technically, the arrangement is between the credit-card holder and the project creator at that point. The backers of this project don't want their money back. And Amazon Payments has rules about what its system can be used for, but it's possible that the book would pass muster because the material for which backers are ostensibly paying is only related to what's listed on the Kickstarter Web site.

    Hoinsky slipped between the cracks. His campaign didn't contain objectionable materials. Had he included excerpts from his Reddit posts of the sort he defended later, it wouldn't have been accepted. Was he trying to game Kickstarter like he games the ladies? I don't think so. He seems too earnest for that, however misguided.

    The outcome is that Kickstarter will no longer allow campaigns for "seduction" manuals, and one can bet there will be additional scrutiny of material linked from a project that's integral to that project. The company collected $800 or so in fees from the successful funding. It is donating $25,000 to RAINN, a national group in America devoted to the opposition of sexual violence.

    Kickstarter apparently has only a giant red stop button for campaigns, not a pause-and-consider button. Perhaps it ought to add one.

    / / COMMENTS

    / /


    1. PUAs are not solely about men trying to pick up women for free sex. Read anything by David DeAngelo and his advice is almost entirely “Be a better person”. So is Lance Armstrong’s. I attended one Lance’s weekend workshops. His was all about learning to be comfortable in public places with strangers. There was nothing about how to get in a woman’s pants. 

      See this list as one example

      If you approach those from the POV they’re bad you’ll see what you want to see. If you dig deeper you’ll see that many of them are almost entirely positive. They help men become better versions of themselves. They’ll be more successful in life in general, more comfortable around strangers and as a bonus be more attractive to women

      I’m not saying there are scummy PUAs but many of them are good. David DeAngelo also had his “Interviews with Dating Guru’s series” in which he interviews a bunch of PUAs. Out of 58 interviews I only remember 3 or 4 that were “here’s how to get a women to sleep with you”.

      1. These guys build careers out of convincing persons that they can get laid as much as they want by treating women as less than human. Something tells me the reality doesn’t match your whitewashed depictions, but I’m not going to go to the gutter of PUA forums to research your claims.

        If they were truly as you say, they wouldn’t need to frame things in the “PUA” perspective, nor would they need to add all the cargo cult bullshit that their careers are based off of.

        The “industry” is loathsome regardless of your claims about legitimacy.

        1. Any sales or business-oriented “motivational” class or PR course at uni, for that matter, does pretty much the same, only by way of treating the whole rest of humanity as less than human, regardless of sex. I find most criticism  against PUA as nothing more than simple prudery. And besides, what they’re selling is mostly harmless, nothing more than a bit of social psychology, techniques for boosting male self-esteem in today’s society. All PUA “tricks” basically boil to this – “confidence gets you laid” and “fake it till you make it”. I don’t see anything inherently evil in this, quite the contrary. Of course, there are a-holes in there and those psychological techniques can be used for harm, but so can pretty much any other self-improvement system.

          1. “I find most criticism  against PUA as nothing more than simple prudery.”

            Bullshit! This is not about sex, this is – as you so rightly pointed out – treating other people as less than human. The fact that it happens elsewhere (and it certainly does) does not in some way justify the vile shit the PUAs are spewing.
            I’m very much for legal pornography and prostitution. But at the same time, I’d *very* much like that certain people finally get one fundamental fact into their tiny heads: No one is entitled to another human’s body, not ever. That’s what this is all about, and that’s why I call myself a feminist.

            1. I agree with most you’re saying but, on the other hand, consider where are the limits of your stance? What PUA is is nothing more than applied social psychology. Yes there is a lot of trickery and even lying involved, but such is the nature of human social discourse. Should everything but outright 100% honesty and truthfulness be banned from any human contact? I’d find that terribly dreary and not sexually appealing at all. It is in the nature of human courtship that there is some kind of intellectual context involved. (ironically, mostly in cases where you’re looking for a long-term partner, one you want to invest time in, aka “love”) This is why there is an old saying “Everything is allowed in love and war.” Flirting, often aggressive, is a mating ritual; just as birds flash their feathers so humans display and contest their wit and social deviousness as a proof of desirability as mates.

            2. What are the limits to his stance that “No one is entitled to another human’s body, not ever”? There AREN’T any limits to that “stance,” which is not a stance, but a fundamental truth of life. Do you really not realize how totally gross what you’re saying sounds? Do you really think you’re “engaging” in something fun and clever and courteous? Wake up! Grabbing women and pulling them onto your lap, then “escalating” has 2 results: 1) The horrified woman is disgusted to be groped and she gets out of the situation. If she’s exceptionally confident she tells off the groper. Usually she just “escapes” in silence or with a laugh because she has been raised to believe that while she has the right to say no, it’s bitchy and embarrassing to make a big fuss (and right away, there are the SIGNALS that you people are too clueless to read) or 2) the meek woman has been raised to believe that she should be accommodating and acquiescent, and that it’s rude to cause a fuss by sticking up for herself at all. Since she has never been shown how to say “no” and is unable to figure out what to do, she ends up going along with it and submits to the assault and maybe to its escalation, and feels even more gross about herself the next day. I will not be surprised if you’re the type of man who thinks that isn’t how it is, or thinks that’s a very fringe scenario, and not an extremely accurate description, which it is!

            3.  @Jenny:twitter I Whoa, whoa, whoa.. I don’t see any “entitlement to another human’s body” in anything I’ve read from PUA sources. Where do you get this? If you think PUA is some kind of “rape handbook” please do read up on the subject. As for “grabbing women and pulling them on your lap”, well, it’s all a matter of social, psychological and emotional context, and most of PUA deals with reading the signs right – something socially challenged, shy men have real problems with. Most of it is really basic common sense, wrapped in a lot of macho posturing. I don’t think “grabbing women and pulling them on your lap” is necessarily “evil” – for example, my wife is usually delighted when I “grab her an pull her on my lap” and she would really miss this occasional occurence. Or do you think that only wives should be “grabbed and pulled on your lap?” Or am I a rapist because I used to do that even before we were married or even steady?
              Sorry to say, but imo you’re misinformed about the whole PUA business and what it’s all about. And you know, D&D really isn’t a teenage satanic cult.

          2. It’s nice to work on self-esteem.  Working on this does not require one to use a technique like negging, which I understand it as deliberately undermining the self-esteem of another human being to make them like you enough to sleep with you.  And to polish and old chestnut, would you want someone to use this or other “tricks” on your sister or daughter?

            1.  Of course there’s crap in it, but the technique works in insidious ways on it’s practicioners… As with my friend, he was looking for a cheap psychological tricks to get a leg up and ended up discovering that self-esteem + honesty beat any old “move”. Let’s face it, men who are drawn to PUA have problems, they usually have low self esteem and probably a lot of resentment towards women. In most cases, PUA works as a kind of a psychological ice-breaker, giving those men an initial boost needed to actually start socializing with the opposite sex. Usually, once they’re past this hurdle they discover the “self-esteem” + “honesty” magic formula.
              On the other hand, sociopaths don’t really need PUA to be dicks towards women. They’d be doing their nastiness with or without PUA trickery.

            2. You seem to be offering a an argument against PUA lit.  Your friend, once he apparently ignored the advice and found that honesty > “move”, was successful in finding a happy relationship.  Others may not have this epiphany, and may be be clueless enough to stick with “move”.  You might want to compare the bestselling popular book you gave your friend to the material cited here, they may be completely different in tone.  The “move” advocated in this manual include pre-emptively exposing your genitals and forcibly sticking your intended’s hand on it.  That is not exactly a psychological trick.  The psychological tricks such as negging, again, are also pretty despicable.  
              Yes, sociopaths are sociopaths, but borderline sociopaths and the clueless shouldn’t be given a guidebook on how to be sexually satisfied by being a sociopath.

            3. XKCD’s delightful comeback to a pickup artist “negging”:

              “Ooh – are we negging? Let me try! You look like you’re going to spend your life having one epiphany after another, always thinking you’ve finally figured out what’s holding you back, and how you can finally be productive and creative and turn your life around. But nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn’t due to some obstacle. It’s who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams… is that the person having them is you.”


            4. I’m kind of surprised that searching for a tee shirt that says, “Ooh – are we negging?” didn’t produce a result. I think that it would sell well. Even in completely other contexts.

          3.  I’m pretty sure you’re lying. I think you’re probably a sock puppet for one of the rape manual authors, complete with “success story.”

          4. “I find most criticism  against PUA as nothing more than simple prudery.”

            Sorry, I support Dom/Sub relationships, because they set ground rules of consent.

            Your disinterest in this and finding of trust to be “prudish” marks you as a creep who doesn’t ever deserve to get laid.

            Every single confidence can be taught without your rapey advice, removing that cargo cult would destroy PUA, which relies on ridiculous trickery that harms more than it helps its practitioners.

          5. “I’ve been studying PUA as a part of my ongoing research into various practical psychological systems”

            You don’t say. I bet you’re an “expert” on evo-psych too.

            “I gave him a bestselling popular book on the subject and within 1 month he made his first “score”. Funnily, that was his last “score” using PUA because that lady became his wife and now they’re very happily married”

            So you don’t know what the phrase “cargo cult” actually means.

      2. Gregg, you may have found a sub-culture in the sub-culture, but the name Pick Up Artist refers to gaming social interaction to get laid. The name inherently describes the approach.

        Seminars and individuals that focus on improving one’s social interaction and self-esteem labeled under PUA would seem to be talking out of two sides of their mouths.

        1.  I’m sorry but this is incredibly shallow reporting. The overall advice is that if men become more confident, they will be automatically better at dealing with women. Your anger seems to stem from the basis that it is wrong to want to have sex with women. I think this quote from Joseph Campbell says it all:
          in every sphere of human search and experience the mystery of the
          ultimate nature of being breaks into oxymoronic paradox, and the best
          that can be said of it has to be taken simply as metaphor—whether as
          particles and waves or as Apollo and Dionysus, pleasure and pain. Both
          in science and in poetry, the principal of the anagogical metaphor is
          thus recognized today; it is only from the pulpit and the press that one
          hears of truths and virtues definable in fixed terms.”

          1. This is possibly very shallow reading.

            The article describes, in general, a subculture that indoctrinates its adherents into gaming women; a sub-category of it is improving one’s self-esteem. Your “overall advice” disregards the dominant message of turning women into objects and their snatch as a target to be acquired by working through objections and using psychologically tricks and physical coercion just shy of having the cops called on you.

            “Your anger seems to stem from the basis that it is wrong to want to have sex with women”: Your misreading seems to stem from reading a few sentences here and there in the article.

            Sex is a wonderful thing. Using techniques to break down someone else’s self-esteem (negging), mislead them, and physically escalate without consent and back off only when attacked verbally or physically has nothing to do with sex.

            It’s violence.

          2. ” I’m sorry but this is incredibly shallow reporting. The overall advice is that if men become more confident, they will be automatically better at dealing with women. ”

            Or you don’t understand what PUA stands for. Dating advice doesn’t require that pseudoscientific sociopathic ends always reached in the literature.

          3. “Dealing” with women? Women aren’t things to be dealt with. If men become more confident and comfortable sexually harassing women, they’ll sexually harass women. 

            It’s not that it’s wrong for heterosexual men to want to have sex with women. It’s that it’s wrong for heterosexual men to think they’re entitled to that sex.
            Being a lesbian, I know a little bit about this. I know exactly what it feels like to be sexually attracted to women knowing that MAYBE 3% could even possibly welcome such attraction. And I also know what it feels like to encounter a man who confidently believes he is entitled to make sexual advances towards a woman, even if she’s a lesbian, because the universe built and designed him to do so.

          4. “Confidence is your key to connecting to another person” is not the overall advice of PUA culture. It is the sole nugget of accidental truth at the centre of all the rituals of psychological manipulation, physical imposition, peacockery and general dickery that PUA culture is.

      3. Are you a PUA?  Is that why you are spending so much time defending this utter disgusting trash?

      4. Rape is rape. Rape manual is rape manual. What do you not understand? Apologizing for rape manual is endorsement of rape manual, is endorsement of rape. Are we clear now? Good.

        1. I don’t know anything about the OP’s examples and how skeezy or not they are, but yours is not really a relevant response to “here are some other things that are not rape manuals.” 

          1. Breaching consent is to PUAs as Subluxations are to Chiropaths, or Body Thetans to a Scientologist.

            1.  Well, only half, as generations of brits will be able to tell you. He only had one ball.  Apparently his other testicle resides in the Albert Hall.

              There’s a few other verses.

        2.  Satanism is satanism. Satanist manual is satanist manual. What do you not understand? Apologizing for satanist manual is endorsement of satanist manual, is endorsement of satanism. Are we clear now? Good.
          Ergo, D&D should be banned.

          1. You’re thinking of Mazes and Monsters.

            It always amazes me when people use things in analogies that they know absolutely nothing about.

            1. To be fair, if they had that level of self-awareness they wouldn’t be MRAs in the first place.

          2. Whoah, are you telling me that Anton LaVey played D&D?!

            Oh, no?  I guess D&D has absolutely nothing to do with Satanism then.  I guess you’ll have to resort to that “reasoned argument” bullshit.

      5. If you’re arguing that if you just remove the sexual element it’s just like anything else, you are really really missing the point. The sexual manipulation of women is the primary reason this kickstarter book is problematic. It this book wasn’t about picking up women with the goal of a sexual encounter, this blog post wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    2. I fail to see the connection between PUA culture and rape. There is no condoning of force or gaining consent through administration of drugs as far as I can tell. We are all adults and stand responsible for our actions even if the man has poor intentions and uses what can be best described as under handed techniques and slimy it is a gigantic stretch to call what is described above as sexual assault. You can call me all the names you want which i’m sure some people will but if a used car salesmen dupes into overpaying for a car I’m still the one who signs on the dotted line and therefore responsible for my actions. If a man knowingly impairs a females judgement through the secret administration of some drug or forcibly has his way with her than you have sexual assault, otherwise she has to stand upon her own judgement in the end. 

      1. You are under the false and arrogant presumption that there is any scenario under which a man may press his desire for sex on a woman. The idea of the pick-up artist has very little to do with a man’s self-esteem, but more to do with turning women into prey and men into better predators. Rape culture is about the continuing dynamic where men see women as objects of desire first, and anything else second, and feel that they can treat women in any way necessary to obtain their ultimate goal, which is male sexual release. Women , as people, are due respect without question, and the pick-up artist is not interested in respecting women, but using them for his own gratification. So, yes, pick-up artists are another facet of a culture in which the male indulgence of the sexual prerogative at the expense of women is alive and well.

        1. “Rape culture is about the continuing dynamic where men see women as objects of desire first, and anything else second…” 

          That is a terrible thing to say. That devalues the horror of /actual/ rape. 

          Also, it is important to note that the way humans are physiologically set up is that they respond to the physical first (youth, beauty, etc) rather than, say, thinking “I wonder if they are a good conversationalist”. Assuming your definition of rape culture, human culture is instinctively rape culture.

          1. I would interested to see your actual argument for what that devalues rape. If anything, IMO, it defines it. Rape is about control. Rape is about power. Rape is about men seeing women as sexual objects to be controlled and used at their leisure. That is not the same thing as the appreciation of physical beauty. Rape is about intent; any person can appreciate the beauty — on any level — of another person, without finding the need to use that appreciation as a reason to foist their sexual urges off on that person.

            1. I agree with newandinteresting in that your definition of rape is way too broad, I feel. I think for legal purposes, rape should be limited to violent, physical sexual assault. It happens every day mostly to women and some men and it’s horrible. Everything else you are talking about devalues the word. Using the word rape to justify emotional hyper-sensitivity or to make it a synonym with objectification is a terrible idea, and worse invites the government and legal system to understand subtlety, not a trait either are known for.

              Though I do agree with the broader article that PUA tactics broach sexual assault and that their practitioners should be considered social pariahs.

            2. I’m not talking about emotional hypersensitivity; I’m talking about male sexual aggression toward women. And the fact is, a woman has every right to deflect the sexual advances of a man to any degree, and no man has any right to assume that his sexual advances are wanted or warranted. Rape culture is about men flouting the idea that women have that right to any degree, because their (men’s) sexual desire is paramount. It doesn’t work that way.

            3. NN, had you said just that, then I nor, I  suspect, somnambulist would find any cause to dispute you.

              However, you didn’t say /just/ that. That is my ultimate point here: precision in this discussion matters. ‘Close enough’ doesn’t cut it for issues as important as this.

              Edit: grammar

            4.  “I think for legal purposes, rape should be limited to violent, physical sexual assault.”

              I need you to understand that most rapes are not perpetrated by strangers, but rather relatives, friends, spouses, and someone you are dating. In other words, not all rapes result in physical violence. This is an important distinction, because this is the type of shit that feeds into the the dangerous semantics of “forcible rape”, “legitimate rape”, “rape-rape” and so forth.

              I am not accusing you of purposely misconstruing the crime of rape, just making sure you and others are aware of how pervasive the idea that only violent rapes should count. This itself is part of the rape culture.

            5. That is a straw man argument. Please focus on the comment I actually did make. There was nothing in what I said about rape not being about power, etc.

              If you mis-spoke in your original comment, I can entirely accept that, but the statement I responded to simply does not reflect the nuance that you included in this followup post.

              For context, I’ve commented here, because I think it is critically important to not confuse or hyperbolize an important issue. When that happens, it can turn what ought to be a trivially non-divisive issue into an argument. 

            6. You said

              Rape culture is about the continuing dynamic where men see women as objects of desire first, and anything else second

              You didn’t define rape with that statement, only “rape culture”. Pedantically, you can get off the hook with that distinction. It was (and is) easy to read that, however, as making a fairly strong link between “seeing women as objects of desire” and rape itself, which I think you’ve acknowledged isn’t really part of any understanding of what rape really is.

              You went on to say

              So, yes, pick-up artists are another facet of a culture in which the
              male indulgence of the sexual prerogative at the expense of women is
              alive and well

              which suggests that you see rape as inextricably linked to a much broader phenomenon within male/female relations. I think that the objections to what you wrote come from the sense that rape itself is a very different, very horrible event, and that linking it to more general concerns about male/female relationships can undermine our awareness and acknowledgement of just how awful rape itself really is (even if those linkages may have some sociological justification).

            7. To Paul Davis:

              You didn’t define rape with that statement, only “rape culture”. Pedantically, you can get off the hook with that distinction.

              “Rape culture” is a term with a meaning and a history. There’s nothing pedantic about drawing the distinction between rape and rape culture; it’s just a term of art that you might not be familiar with.

          2. Newt didn’t say that rape is about that dynamic, but that rape culture is.

            The point is that that attitude enables rape, not that it defines it. A society that sends the message that women are objects with only one function creates room for rapists to operate, often without consequences. It makes it easier to pass off drunken sexual assault in a frat house as youthful hijinks.

            1.  What is this whole “rape culture” nonsense. Rape is an act performed as a desire to dominate or hurt another human being. It’s not a “culture”. Plenty of frat boys get drunk and don’t rape women. I think you and the rest of the internet need to look up what the word culture means.

            2. Rape culture is a culture that makes it possible to excuse rape (and other forms of sexual assault) by sending the message that women are there to be exploited. It’s not a culture of rapists; it’s a culture that creates room for rapists to operate.

              Say someone’s home is torched by an arsonist. Say the first response from a lot of people — not everybody, but a significant fraction — was, “Well, you should’ve fireproofed your home better.” “Well, c’mon, the arsonist’s a good guy; he was just drunk.” “Well, if you hadn’t stored all those boxes in the basement, it wouldn’t’ve been nearly so bad.” That would be an “arson culture” in the same sense as “rape culture” — not a culture in which everybody’s an arsonist, but a culture in which the first instinct is to find a way to make that crime the fault of the victim and find excuses for the criminal.

            3. “Rape culture” is supposed to be the culture that exists to make rape seem less than it is.

              Examples include – making rape jokes, using rape as a verb, etc.

              It (as far as I’m concerned)  doesn’t have anything to do with the objectification of women but is 100% something that revolves around the use of rape in casual conversation that diminishes it’s horror, and at the same time makes it seem normal.

              The reason that this is a big deal isn’t because everyone who makes a ‘rape joke’ for example is or will be a rapist.  Instead it is because 1 out of 5 guys will commit a rape in their life (based on the current statistics) and if you make a ‘rape joke’ that one guy who is on the fence will begin to feel it’s not something that will make them a social pariah.  The idea that you could *encourage* some scumbag to take the next step is why avoiding the subject as a joke or use it in a non-horrifying way is encouraged.

              The objectification of women doesn’t honestly belong in the same classification.

            4. Joe said, “What is this whole “rape culture” nonsense.” just deep enough in the discussion to make everyone feel bad about having to explain it to the poor chap, because it feels as though they should have known he didn’t understand the man with the knife.

            5. “It (as far as I’m concerned)  doesn’t have anything to do with the objectification of women”

              Dear god, could you not be more wrong.

          3. “That is a terrible thing to say. That devalues the horror of /actual/ rape. ”

            Fuck off, it’s what enables and fosters rape. Your feelings getting hurt about being responsible for women, men, anyone being abused is not a valid reason to pretend that we’re not all responsible for protecting others.

      2. “There is no condoning of force”: Non-consensual physical coercion in which a woman has to verbally or physically resist advances is the actual definition of sexual assault. There is, in fact, the recommendation to continuously physically escalate until a woman resists. That is called sexual assault.

        1.  No, it’s not. That’s not what the book says, either. It says to make a move and if the women says no to stop. You are taking it out of context and suggesting it is a random act on the street. In the book it is suggested as a technique to use after establishing rapport as a part of an escalation during flirting. I don’t necessarily like the way he wrote it, but it’s not suggesting sexual assault. If you can’t grasp the difference between someone playfully grabbing a woman during an interaction and the violent acts resulting in rape and violent assault, then you have no business being a reporter or journalist. I find your lack of discernment disturbing.

          1. “if the woman say no to stop”

            So when I take my dick out and grab her hand and make her hold it, and she says stop, she’s okay with that?

            “If you can’t grasp the difference between someone playfully grabbing a woman”: Can the woman tell the difference?

            Sexual assault is the coercive assertion of non-consensual action for sexual purposes.

            Your definition of violence is a much higher threshold than the law affords nor any woman in my acquaintance would agree with.

            Have you ever spoken with a woman about what they consider assault versus playful?

            1. “So when I take my dick out and grab her hand and make her hold it, and she says stop, she’s okay with that?”

              This, again, is taken out of context. The quote you are referring to is taken from the section entitled “Sex.” It is advice for DURING sex, as in our clothes are off and we are about to have sex, not some random act on a stranger. If you had bothered to read the excerpts, which obviously you didn’t, you would know that.

              As far as with women, yes I have had  many frank discussions with women about sex. All of them told me they loved my directness during sex. Unlike you, apparently, I don’t lack discernment.

              Sloppy reporting, my friend.

            2. All of this is true.

              The PUA culture does NOT categorically reject the notion of violence.  They do not make consent a centerpiece.  They soft-pedal it.  They gray the line and make it confusing.  Especially for the younger participants, who are the vast majority of dudes doing PUA. 

              It’s a pretty rare thing for a guy to be able to go out, meet women, and by his charms take one home whenever he wants, without force, lying, coercion or anything below-board.  Half of that equation is the women, just liking the guy and wanting to be with him.  That guy is really rare.

              But what PUA has done is try to package that rarity as a simple set of skills that you can learn in a weekend and you’re good to go home and try it out.  Which is a lie.  And in order to get there to that product-for-sale, requires moral compromise.  Which is why PUA is so super slimy, and yet so appealing to young nerdy dudes who are socially poor.  It’s very sad, and as you say, extremely violent.

              And the violence in any form is hardly necessary.  Because becoming a better person: interesting to talk to, fun, outgoing, lively, easy to be with, is all it really takes.  Sex, love and fun come naturally from being a well-adjusted person.  When you already are that guy, you don’t need PUA.

              Personally, I wish all the PUA shit would die a horrible death and get shot into the Sun.

            3.  I haven’t read all the replies yet, so I don’t know if other women have responded. But so far, this seems to be a debate among men about what constitutes sexual assault vs legitimate seduction. As a woman, I’d like to propose that there is a spectrum there, but that what really needs to be considered is how the woman experiences it. And having to shout at a man to STOP or GET AWAY FROM ME, or physically rebuff him, for me, falls toward the sexual assault end of the spectrum, even if the behavior isn’t something you’d call the cops on.

              If you are a man, try thinking about a situation where another man tried these “techniques” on you (having assumed, for whatever reason, that you were in some way interested in him). How would it feel to you if another man physically pulled you onto his lap, tried to kiss you, or pulled out his penis and forced your hand onto it? I’d hazard a guess that you would feel disgusted and angry, and yell something like STOP or GET AWAY FROM ME, and physically rebuff these attempts. Why would you assume that a woman who responds the same way should be fair game for “trying again later”?

              If a woman is interested in you, she’ll respond to your words and physical gestures in positive way, and you won’t have to physically “escalate.” Escalate is what happens in a war or conflict. Why any man would want to try to have sex with a woman who did not clearly indicate a mutual interest is beyond me. Yet I know, unfortunately in a personal way, that it happens, even with someone you know and formerly trusted. Now I’m old enough and self-assured enough that I would not respond in a confused and ashamed way, but would clearly and physically “rebuff” the person. But some young or insecure women might not. That doesn’t mean that as a man, you should try to take advantage of them to “get” sex. It means you should see if you can build trust, and if all you ever are is a friend, be satisfied with that.

            4. Completely agree to all of your statements. The PUA community thrives (whether for sex or self-esteem, whatever the guys claim to be in it for) because the men who come to it don’t have the ability to read signals. They think it’s a game they don’t know how to play instead of a subtle, evolutionary and societally mediated interaction.

              “…she’ll respond to your words and physical gestures in positive way”: These guys don’t get it — they simply can’t read the signals. Some can be trained to, but PUA doesn’t seem to be about that. (Some folks are telling me there is a non-sex-oriented PUA, which does, but it should probably stop calling itself PUA, then.)

              My one disagreement? Men aren’t debating about this. There is a definition in the law and one that many societies agree upon as a whole that is clear about consent. Then there are people in this forum and elsewhere defending the idea of physical escalation without consent. I can’t see that as a debate, because the “always push it” folks are simply wrong and encouraging illegal behavior.

            1.  I agree it’s not well written, but if you read the entire section from which the quote is taken it’s clear he’s not suggesting forcing yourself on someone. He suggests to stop if she shows any disinterest. I suggest you actually read what he wrote rather than just what’s been written on the internet, which is basically exploitation to garner a reaction.

            2. You’re assuming I haven’t read it, which is a mistake. Don’t forget that the author also took down a bunch of his Reddit material as soon as Kickstarter began examining the situation. Speaks volumes.

            3. Wait, so the nature of the activity is determined by how the activity ends, and not how it began? If you pull the woman onto your lap and she freaks out, you let go, and she runs away, then you never forced yourself on her. But if when she freaks out, you subdue her physically and continue despite her ongoing protests, then you HAVE forced yourself on her. 

              Okay, I think I actually just understood something about you. You honestly don’t realize that we all view the “forcing yourself on her” as having begun when your grabbed her and pulled her onto your lap. Whereas for you, that part is just a throw-away–like saying hello–and the opportunity to even begin any kind of force starts only AFTER she has *reacted* to being pulled onto your lap.

              Do I misunderstand you, or do you understand that it’s not acceptable to feel entitled to grab a woman and pull her onto your lap just because she sits down beside you at a club, tells you her name, and perhaps allows you to buy her a drink etc.?

            4.  I have read it … have you?  It says quite clearly that if women says no then the guy should say a line, take a break, and then try again.  There is nothing in his “note on resistance” about:

              – no means no
              – the absence of a no does not imply a yes

              As other people have pointed out, there should be something to indicate that she is interested beyond “I’m male and she’s female … obviously she must be interested!”

    3. Outside of the rapeyness of this whole situation is the fact that Kickstarter has grown ridiculously fast over the last year and its systems haven’t kept up – the idea that they have the ability to cancel a project but not PAUSE it is ridiculous. They claim they didn’t want to cancel the project under a deadline but it never occurred to anyone to stop the clock and halt donations so a decision could be made rationally – the clock was an arbitrary addition to the problem that the should have had full control over.

      Why it was greenlit in the first place is a different problem.

      1. From what I understand, there are some problems with pausing a project. When people pledge money, they do so under specific terms, including time of completion.

        1. Then they should learn from this experience and alter their terms and conditions and implement the technology to account for this, no? It’s either that, or they seriously examine the way they initially approve projects, or they build in a buffer between the clock hitting zero and the payment processing for a “final verification.” 

          There are ways around this problem, it just never occurred to them to implement them because nothing had gone wrong yet. Now it has, and they’re obligated to fix the problem systemically. Saying “We’ll say no to rape manuals from now on” doesn’t help project against the next horrendous-but-unrelated project to come down the pipe.

      2.  ‘The answer to “Why doesn’t this feature exist?” is usually “By default features don’t exist. Somebody has to implement them.”‘ -Raymond Chen

      3. This.

        The power of Kickstarter rests upon the wisdom of the crowd.  Its assumption, going in, was that projects that people want would be funded, and that those projects would deliver once funded.

        Since then, they’ve had to revise their policy on submissions several times upon discovering that the crowd was rather easily taken advantage of.  But the policy on submissions rests in the hands of Kickstarter itself–a much smaller, more autocratic, un-crowd-like figure.

        A far more useful way to respond to Kickstarters growing uncertainty about the wisdom of the crowd would be to have the crowd itself police itself:  Gather negative feedback which is capable of stopping a campaign and returning the money to its misguided backers.

        On facebook, a thumbs-down button would have killed their entire enterprise.  But that’s just because facebook trades exclusively in the currency of attention.  Kickstarter, which deals in real money, and real-world objects, that people would either want to see happen or not want to see happen, could gather the same kind of feedback it uses to start submissions in order to stop them.  And it would actually entail less work for them to do so.

        Kickstarter could use a “stop-and-consider” button on its back end.  But it also needs a thumbs-down button on its front end.

    4. A capitalistic society is really not the best place to expect people to have good intentions in their investments.

      1. A friend of mine (the one responsible for the “Only yes means yes” subheading) intrdocued me to him yesterday.

        OMFG HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME we’re lost

        1. He’s smarmy, and so is Style.  Have you read “The Game”?  This book, when it came out, read like a parody of PUA culture, to me.  So cloyingly ridiculous, I found myself laughing at most of it, even the ‘serious’ parts.  But, my friend, guys take that book literally.  Like, they take that 2004 crap and try to do it in 2013 like it’s golden words on a tablet from heaven.  It’s sad, because the words are one thing, but the petulant beasts inside them aren’t experienced enough and self-poised enough not to force themselves on the women and in some cases rape them when they resist.  PUA culture is crap, trying to wrap itself in self-help.  Good article.

    5. One thing that stuck me looking at the http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/site and the even creepier redpill subreddit http://www.reddit.com/r/theredpill (which gives “scientific” rationalizations for misogyny) is how much of this reads like Scientology Jargon

      1. Interesting point. Perhaps that’s why I think first of Tom Cruise in Magnolia when the “pick-up artist” classes are mentioned, and not that weird “Mystery” guy in the Dr. Seuss hat.

        1. Oh man…I forgot ALL about that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n2IVF9a2IA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCEYxs7kWmQ

    6. As Kickstarter moves to become the primary way for creatives to get funding, I’m not happy that they are willing to censor content based on what people find to be objectionable or offensive. Mainly because one of the goals of creative work is often to push at the boundaries of what is acceptable.  So am I saying I’d prefer Kickstarter to crowdsource the publishing of Turner Diaries 2 rather then pick and choose what they find objectionable based on who screams loudest at them? Yes.

      The revolutionary idea behind Kickstarter is to remove traditional publishers and gatekeepers from this process, creatives can sell directly to their readers and viewers. It’s a fantastic idea. I’m not happy with Kickstarter placing their own moral and ethical restrictions on this, as it never works out when art/creatives start getting censored in this way – and Kickstarter is such an exciting alternative (and possibly the only future) for creatives everywhere.

      1. So you’re OK with ppl who seek funding to advance their ideas about sexual assault and rape then.  What’s next?  A book about how to torture children and animals?  Perhaps how to kidnap a 14 y/o female and keep her imprisoned as a sex slave for a decade like Ariel Castro?  

        1. What you said, Prattle On.

          There’s a very distinct line between a book that (however much its author simply doesn’t understand) preaches sexual assault and one that posits bizarre government conspiracies.

          Censorship isn’t an issue here; Kickstarter declining to host the project doesn’t prevent all avenues of fundraising for it. Rather, it’s an issue of what Kickstarter finds to be both ethically and legally defensible.

        2. There’s a massive difference between being “OK” with objectionable material and being leery of “community standards” or vocal opposition being the threshold for materials to be published. It’s a very much a conservative vs. liberal mindset in regards to media-business-production censorship (which often does not mirror any sort of Republican / Democrat political affiliation).

          Do I think a book about how to torture children and animals should be allowed to be published? Absolutely yes. Do I believe a book about how to kidnap a fourteen-year-old should be allowed to be published? Yes. Do I believe books about subjects I can think that are *way* more depraved, degrading, and horrific than your examples be allowed to be published? Absolutely. Do I also believe that society should alternatively as needed ignore or intellectually combat all this type of filth? Absolutely. Should Kickstarter choose to allow funding for these types of book on their site? Ah, that’s a much more interesting question, and one I will get to later in the post.So, to your question “So you’re OK with ppl who seek funding to advance their ideas about sexual assault and rape then?” to the other commenter – I can say, no, I’m not okay with those people. At all. However, I am okay with them being allowed to seek funding. Two fundamentally different things, and if you are unable to differentiate between them, I’m afraid no further conversation would really prove enlightening.However, the direct question at hand isn’t really “ppl who seek funding to advance their ideas about sexual assault and rape,” because it is absolutely not a definitive summary of this book to say that it is about sexual assault. I understand that that seems to be Mr. Fleishman’s postulation with this article, but to say that reasonable people may disagree strongly that this book is promoting a method of sexual assault is not out of the question. I would very much hope that even Mr. Fleishman would agree that, as much as he seems to feel that this book, at least certain passages in it, could lead misguided readers to commit sexual assault by following it, that it would be /misguided/ readers than would commit such acts, not readers that take the advice of the writer as the writer intended. (Of course an obvious rejoinder is to point out the writer’s intent may mean far less than its interpretation, and that’s an excellent thing to argue about, but not the purview of my post here.)

          Rarely does the “slippery slope” argument like you’re offering, whether it’s about censorship, regulation, sexual, reproductive, parental rights, or anything else, really further the conversation meaningfully. 

          There’s also the very strong argumental territory of what Kickstarter should do. Personally, I do not think this book is likely to have crossed a true moral threshold and that it doesn’t not actually advocate sexual assault or rape (I however, am basing that off my reading of Mr. Fleishman’s artcile here, a scanning of replies concerning the Kickstarter, and my knowledge of “the seduction community,” of which I am not a part but do know of). Now, let’s say the book just flat-out does, let’s say the book was called “How to Rape a Chick Without Her Even Knowing It,” so that we can put the “was it actually objectionable” debate aside, as HtRaCWHEKi is offensive even to me. 

          The question remains: should Kickstarter disallow it on their site? This is called “production censorship” or “market censorship” to differentiate from more actual real-deal government-won’t-allow-it to-exist censorship. Kickstarter canceling this kind of campaign would of course not not “true” censorship, because the author could obviously get these published from funding a very many number of ways (indeed, several books probably very similar to this one, or at least no less “promoting sexual assault” to Mr. Fleishman and those that agree with his viewpoint, are available through major “mainstream” publishing houses). 

          But it a kind of censorship, or if we don’t like the connotation of that word, a kind of content arbitration. It places the medium in a place of arbiter of taste, standards, and respectability, rather than the marketplace. While this in 20th century media was so established and commonplace as to be a foregone conclusion (e.g., TV network Standards and Practices), the “freedom” of network technology allows to at least consider what we want from our media infrastructure. 

          Do we want companies like Kickstarter to be like CBS television, curating the types of shows able to shown, at certain times, certain words said, and thus only certain approved ideas, perspectives, lifestyles, information, etc. – ones most advantageous to big advertisers, the politicians in power at the time, the status quo? 

          Or do we want them to be effectively neutral entities, providers of the modes of funding or mediums of providing a structure of delivery for the content, and have the creators, funders, and buyers are the content be responsible for it themselves? I’m thinking of AT&T, perhaps, supplying phone lines and a telephony infrastructure but not being liable for or expected to prevent certain types of phone calls, like sex lines, or certain offensive communication, like telling your ex-boyfriend awful awful things about his anatomy just because y’all broke up and shattering his self-esteem. Or Smith-Corona not being in charge of what filth may have been typed on their machines.

          The truth is of course somewhere between those two extremes: I don’t think anyone, including myself, would advocate Kickstart allowing a campaign to create plans to making a a cheap nuclear bomb to be distributed freely to any wannabe terrorist. Also don’t think anyone would want Kickstarter to disallow any campaign involving adoption because the founder had bad adoptive parents and wants to stamp out the scorge of kids finding loving homes out of spite. 

          But, if I had to choose between content infrastructure – which Kickstarter is effectively rapidly becoming – that is more open, which means sometimes allowing material the world would be better off without, or that is more closed, which means sometimes new voices the world would very much be better off having remain silent, I know which side I would hesitate towards. 

          Though this pick-up artist writer does seem like a real asshole.

          1. That’s a really thoughtful and interesting discussion about the limits of speech and commercial/individual support of it.

            Kickstarter can’t be a neutral host because it vets projects already, and its lawyers clearl believe that they can enforce standards and can be liable for projects that cross legal lines. And there is the impact of hosting projects that are societally unacceptable, which damages its business. That seems distinct from a host that lets any Web site operate (even though it could have its business hurt, too), where it seems to have less of a direct role in the content being labeled as appropriate.

            Yes, such books are already available! Should they be banned? I think we have to draw a distinction between works that specifically advocate violence and those that could be interpreted that way.

            “Personally, I do not think this book is likely to have crossed a true
            moral threshold and that it doesn’t not actually advocate sexual assault
            or rape.” This book doesn’t advocate assault or rape, which is why it’s insidious, and probably not intentionally so. It advocates physical escalation in terms that do not sound like assault, and yet, in practice are absolutely assault.

            Thus a book with your alternate title might, in fact, cross the line for acceptable content even at neutral hosts that don’t vet content but respond to complaints, where a seduction manual does not. Reddit wouldn’t have allowed it, either.

            “Though this pick-up artist writer does seem like a real asshole.” This is very funny and good writing. Thanks!

          2. “The question remains: should Kickstarter disallow it on their site? This is called “production censorship” or “market censorship” to differentiate from more actual real-deal government-won’t-allow-it to-exist censorship.”

            Yes, companies should be able to censor advice on rape.

          3. You are splitting hairs and tossing up specious, flatulent-ridden arguments. The crux of the matter is that in a civilized society with laws, we don’t allow predators to be funded in order to advance their sociopathic ideas. If you don’t comprehend that simple statement then I’m afraid our discussion has concluded.

      2. You have no right to be Kickstartered, sorry. If you don’t like their policies, start a rival site.

      3. Kickstarter is a private institution, not a government one, so “freedom of speech” doesn’t apply to them (save that the government can’t stop them from saying anything). As a private institution, they have the right to decide what kinds of things they want on their property. If they were a physical store, they could post “No Weapons Allowed” signs even in places that legally permit concealed or open carry. They could post “No Cussing” signs even though speech is free.

        Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to have standards. There are other, less popular crowdfunding sites with less stringent standards; you could always use one of them.

    7. I didn’t blow the lid off anything.

      The online subculture has been subject to a ton of scrutiny that it was previously exempt from because it made people not suited for it feel oogey when they came across it. Not scrutiny by me or BoingBoing: by the many mainstream print and online sites that covered this Kickstarter-related issue.

      “Cringingly objectionable” ≠ providing a specific set of advice, potentially to impressionable men already incapable of reading social signals without resorting to PUAs forums, that meets the legal definition of physical assault. There’s hardly a blurry line here.

      1. Is the publishing of ideas that only when enacted are illegal, an illegal act? How much of the internet do you wish to censor?

        I prefer the community policed method. While I find it impossible to argue the merits of this kick-starter book, I hate it when someone tells me what I should and should not be able to read.

        1. I don’t think I stated anywhere that the book shouldn’t be published or some governmental body should make any potentially illegal descriptions in books made those books themselves illegal. Constitution doesn’t allow that.

          No, I’m talking about the notion that Kickstarter, because it vets projects, puts a stamp of approval on them. Because it has a long list of community standards and rejects a fair percentage of projects that apply and don’t meet those standards. Thus, allowing a book that advocates behavior that is pretty clearly sexual assault, the book shouldn’t have been approved as a project.

          In this democracy, you can read anything you want, and stuff you can’t is readily available on servers hosted in other countries.

          Now, should Amazon, a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, or whomever sell such books? By their own standards of what they carry, probably not. And if they did, one could boycott them.

          “I hate it when someone tells me what I should and should not be able to read.”

          You know all the content is on Reddit and linked above, right?

          1. I understand what your saying. Kick-starter, as a business, needs to draw a line where the community won’t be offended. That’s fine and the same thing happens at eBay and Amazon. I may have misunderstood you but I thought you were advocating that the book never be published. I apologize if that wasn’t what you meant.

        2. I hate it when someone tells me what I should and should not be able to read.

          Then pay for it yourself. I’m sure that he’d be tickled pink for you to put the whole thing on your Amex card.

    8. I think the fine point that people defending this book are missing is what Glenn writes about signals.

      Kissing a girl on a date doesn’t mean “escalating”. You don’t “escalate” from hand-caressing  to kissing. Both actions are responses to subtle signals which are exchanged between the man and the woman during the interaction/evening, and the woman responds positively not because she likes the “escalation” but because the man’s action is the expression of what he has correctly read that both of them want.

      The problem arises if you see this happen but you don’t see or understand the signals and think it becomes some sort of game; in which case your reaction to a rejection might not be “OK, so she’s not interested in me”, but “oh s***, I should have taken her hand faster/should have waited”, and you get the advice about strategies and escalation – which is, as Glenn points out, really a way of trying to bully and harass your way through. In some cases, a woman might be too insecure to actually say clearly that she doesn’t like it, and if the PUA is unable to detect that, the result becomes … rather creepy.

      As a corollary, of course people can misread each other (e.g., if alcohol is involved), so a man might misunderstand and attempt to kiss a woman who really doesn’t want it. The right thing to do in that case is not to “stop escalating”, it is to flat out apologize and take note of the fact that she (or he, if such be the case) is not interested. The *real* basis for consensual interactions is real, genuine interest, not strategies and “escalation”. The PUA advice seems mainly to come from people who are too insecure of themselves to believe that women could be genuinely interested in them, and/or who lack the social skills to read subtle, nonverbal social interactions.


        The right thing to do in that case is not to “stop escalating”, it is to
        flat out apologize and take note of the fact that she (or he, if such
        be the case) is not interested.

        Exactly … the people defending this guy seem to ignore the fact that this guy’s “note on resistance” quite clearly says that a “no” should be followed by a line and then another attempt.  There is no concept of no meaning no or the fact that the absence of a no is not the equivalent of a yes.

    9. Great article, Glenn. As a reformed geek who bounced from the poles of r/seduction to r/shitredditsays, your writing crystallizes my own errors and judgment in thinking. I would imagine a large percent of PUA people are deep down just like me: vulnerable and afraid of intimacy. 

      Let us hope that radical empathy echoes throughout the chambers and concerns of the intraweb.

      1. Thanks, and yeah. I was totally here until I was about 20 or so. I have no idea what changed, but I suddenly was able to understand other people’s signals, especially those of women, who I had previously been unable to read. I wasn’t a bed-post notcher; I love to be in love. I met and fell in mutual love with a bunch of cool people before meeting the woman who I am now married to. It was pretty marvelous.

        If I could figure out what changed in my psyche to allow this, I would write a book about this, because it was like waking up and seeing a new color.

        (The downside is I’m a bit crazily empathetic now. I can start talking to total strangers, and we wind up divulging deep secrets and crying within minutes. I inherited this from my mother.)

    10. One thing that seems to be missing from this conversation is any input from women who have been “picked up” by one of these “pick-up artists”.  I’ve heard bits and pieces about the PUA sub-culture, but in all the discussions, I’ve seen precious little commentary from the pick-up “targets” (for lack of a better word).

      I mean, sure, some of the PUA approach might seem overly aggressive, but human sexual/romantic interaction is nothing if not complex and subjective. There is no “one size fits all” approach, as some people seem to be suggesting. From the outside, what seems to be overly aggressive might be appropriate for the moment and the people involved, and those are the people who seem to be absent from this conversation.

      1.  Read Clarisse Thorn’s “Confessions of a Pick-Up Artist Chaser.”  Very thought-provoking book, that does not always go where you think it might, given that Clarisse is a vocal feminist and advocate for consent culture.  She talks about several experiences she personally had with PUA types and what she found appealing vs. off-putting, among other interesting insights.

    11. Hot topics are really cool, but they seem to jerk the extreme and silly opinions to the forefront of any rational debate, just like religion and politics.

      People who use the styles espoused in these books are looking for a certain kind of relationship. The people who get “picked up” are grown-ups (or hey if not that’s a whole different deal that’s awful) and probably looking for a certain kind of  relationship as well. Are short-term bar-fly relationships healthy? No. Doing it all your life is a stupid way to inflict long-term sadness on yourself and others. Do they suit certain situations? Yes.

      Trying to pretend that all relationship styles are black and white is a bad idea.

    12. This is precisely why I donated to the Kickstarted documentary that’s, not ironically, trying to use Kickstarter to finalize production. They actually pulled back the veil on another malicious Kickstarter scam and I’d love to see the full documentary. I won’t say much else but if you’re interested here are some links. 
      The doc: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/696739710/kickstarted-documenting-the-crowdfunding-revolutio
      The scam: http://mashable.com/2013/06/21/kickstarter-scam/
      The site: http://www.kickstartedmovie.com/

    13. part of me feels bad for the guys that get sucked into this scene, many of them are legit dirtbags but im sure more than a few are decent guys who happen to be lonely and maybe socially challenged and are being taken advantage of


      Many people like to hang out with their friends at their houses. Waiting around for someone to ask you over to his house is rather ineffectual, however.  Therefore, the best thing to do is identify the house of someone you want to be your friend, and make your way around it, checking for any doors or windows that may be unlocked.

      If you find an unlocked window the friendly thing is to climb in. Once inside, make yourself at-home in your new friend’s house. If you encounter your friend in your explorations of his house, he may express surprise at your presence.

      If he says, “Who the hell are you?” or “What are you doing here?” feel free to strike up a conversation with him,. Remember–so long as he doesn’t say “I do not want you here. Please leave immediately,” you have deniab^H^H^H^H^H^Hno reason to think you are not a welcome guest.

      If he does say that, apologize politely and leave. It is best to wait several minutes before trying his doors and windows again.

    15. I think you have a typo:

      A critique of Hoinsky’s book and his subreddit posts that categorically calls them rape manuals, or says they solely suggest and encourage sexual assault, is that it misses the mish-mash of advice that he provides.

      Simplified, “A critique of his book… is that it misses the advice he provides,” which is not what I think you meant to say, as it doesn’t parse. Probably “A critique of his book [that oversimplifies its content] misses the advice he provides,” right?

    16. There is one passage I don’t think is getting examined in this conversation, but is the most insightful into Hoinsky’s mindset (from his “Logistics” chapter):

      “One final tip… When you get her number, I find it powerful to throw in a “Now you’re not one of those girls who flakes all the time, right?”
      in a somewhat accusatory tone. It implies a set boundary that you won’t
      tolerate girls who flake on you. Firm values and boundaries are hot.”

      Take a good look at those sentences. Does making such distrustful statements, in a “somewhat accusatory tone,” seem like the kind of thing one does in a healthy relationship, whether it’s the first date or the fiftieth? That someone with a healthy attitude towards women, sex, and relationships would do? This isn’t about “values” or “boundaries,” as Hoinsky claims, merely manipulation and abuse. The rest–the comments about escalation, the feigned ignorance of the very idea of consent, even his mealy-mouthed advice to stop when “you know she is not interested” (conveniently, the only indicators of “disinterest” are being yelled at to stop or being shoved, ignoring the whole spectrum of expression)–all stem from a mind that equates bullying with “values.”

    17. “…turning women into not just sexual objects but essentially treating that
      cisgendered biological configuration as a Turing-complete machine in
      which specifying the right sequence of inputs results in access to
      specific ports and protocols.”

      I understand what you’re trying to do here, and I agree with your objective, but that sentence is almost pure onlinespeak, which translates to complete gobbledygook to people who don’t know what “cisgendered,” or “Turing-complete machine” refers to.

      1. Lowest Common Denominator isn’t our target demographic. Look things up if you don’t know what they mean.

      2. It’s intended to be supergeeky — a kind of rhetoric that requires unpacking, because it’s the kind of person that turns to PUA: someone who (through no fault of his own, let’s posit) sees human interactions as systems and people and machines as a result.

        Cisgendered is an increasingly widely used term, and is pretty necessary here: PUA is nearly exclusively cisgendered men attemping to sleep with cisgendered women. It’s rare that one can identify a form of behavior that relies on biological equipment and sexual orientation and other factors.

        1.  >>PUA is nearly exclusively cisgendered men attemping to sleep with
          cisgendered women. It’s rare that one can identify a form of behavior
          that relies on biological equipment and sexual orientation and other

          Because male/female relationships will never be free of unique ambiguities, they are possibly the last great frontier of things that
          aren’t supposed to offend us any more. But I’m pretty sure when every
          other possible variation of sex, including many not yet invented, has
          been mainstreamed, there will still be people livid over male/female

      3. you sort of have a point. pua doesn’t really go into depth on the processing power of human emotions. it’s more like “if that doesn’t work, try this (again if necessary).”

        it would have been more accurate to say that women are treated as finite-state transducers.

    18. “It must not be their personality, pheromones, conversational style, or appearance.” To me this seems like the complete opposite of what PUA culture advocates, actually.

    19. I encountered some of the apologist for the PUA community today on YouTube. It is stunning. They simply do not see any of this as a prescription for sexual assault. They seem as though they are *completely* blind to it. It is terrifying.

      1. I keep trying to get inside this mindset. I believe it’s men who see other men engaging in this sort of behavior without recourse, and the fact that when they try this behavior, most women do not inflict lasting harm nor call a bounce (at a club) or call the cops.

        A friend of mine lived in California for a while, and she told me once about going to some natural hot-pool out at some beach that was clothing optional. She went at night with a friend. After she got in while a bunch of strangers, one of them, with little preamble, pulled her onto his (naked) lap. She got off, he did it again. I believe she left then. That was actually assault. She didn’t call the cops. She felt she’d put herself in that situation; the guy clearly knew he could try to get away with it, and must have done it many other times.

        It’s these guys, who then enable other guys who are impressionable, who set that tone.

        1. And what do you think calling the cops would accomplish in such a situation? Because I only foresee some good, old fashioned victim blaming with plenty of slut shaming heaped on because a woman dared to go swimming with naked men around.

          1. No, I’m not. You’re saying, the system is so broken that people cannot rely on authorities. What breaks that cycle? Never calling authorities?

            I believe there is rape culture, but not that our entire culture supports rape.

            1. Yes, I am saying our system is so broken that women can’t rely on authorities.  Are you not paying attention?  Do you honestly think that, if a woman was swimming naked with other men — men that are also strangers to her — that the cops wouldn’t judge her?  

              You’re incredibly naive.


              Her assault was CAUGHT ON CAMERA and she still had an entire town try to cover up the rape, and blame her for it.

              What about this?

              You do realize that a LARGE MAJORITY of rapists are never even arrested, right? There is a reason for this. Why do you suppose that is?

              It would be fucking awesome if women, when assaulted, could feel safe calling the cops. But most of the time, they don’t feel safe, and for good reason.

              Victim blaming is real. Rape culture is real. And our justice system is drowning in both.

            2. “Are you not paying attention? ”

              Thank you for womansplaining to me. Because, as you can tell by this article, I clearly don’t understand anything to do with sexual assault.

            3. @GlennFleishman:disqus  hahahaha.  “womansplaining” is NOT a thing.  Don’t be that guy.

              You’re saying, the system is so broken that people cannot rely on authorities. 

              No, I don’t think you understand the politics of sexual assault at all.

            4. A day late, so you may not be checking these comments anymore, but on the off-chance you are – what do you see as the appropriate reaction for someone in your friend’s situation?

              Your premise is that it’s by example that men learn this behavior is acceptable; if the police, the ultimate authority figures, arrive on the scene, refuse to charge them with assault and mock the victim, how is that going to do anything but reinforce the perception that their behavior was 100% okay?

              I don’t know what the solution is, and I don’t expect you to have one either, but your criticism of your friend not calling the police and your subsequent “do we do nothing” argument comes across to me (fair disclosure, a woman) as a helpless catch-22. The police support perpetrators in raping and assaulting women, but not calling the police is me supporting perpetrators in raping and assaulting (me)?

              What are my options for holding these men responsible? I’d really like to know, because aside from vigilante violence I don’t see any.

    20. The last time I saw sleazy PUA spam on a forum, I called the guy out for posting crappy “how to pick up girls” advertising.

      The funny thing was that the women down rated me about 25 times and they all rallied around this character as if he were a champion of women.

      I had to give the guy credit for knowing his target market and being the scumbag that women wanted to “save.”   He really knew his stuff!

      1. The funny thing was that the women down rated me about 25 times and they all rallied around this character as if he were a champion of women.

        I don’t want to burst your bubble, but from back here behind the curtain, I can see that a lot of those “Pams” and “Mindys” have e-mail addresses that say “Fred” and “Dave”.

        1. So a lot of the feminist criticism out there is really just dudes doing post-post-modern ironic parody? Ok, that explains a lot. 

    21. Cory, a word about your preemptive defense against “knowledge hipsters”:  Had it not been there, I would have assumed that the paragraphs that followed were a summary of pickup artists, necessary for framing your analysis of the Kickstarter case.  These kinds of summaries are common, even in articles aimed at people who understand the subject at hand well.

      It left me confused about your intent–were you delving into the intricacies of Kickstarter’s policies, or were you simply clutching your pearls?  Because, while I agree that pickup artists deserve to know that what they do is probably sexual assault (and definitely creepy), I think a debate about using the social network to stop such creepiness is far more interesting–and had it not been for your note admonishing the possession of knowledge, I would have taken your article as an invitation to have that debate.

      The comments above reinforce this view–there’s nothing about Kickstarter in the normally quite on-topic comments BoingBoing readers post.  But there is a lot of debate about whether pickup artists advocate sexual assault–a debate that is had elsewhere and is not entirely useful here.Also:  I’m going to start calling myself a knowledge hipster now.

      1. A note about Cory: he doesn’t write all the articles at BoingBoing.

        A note about the article: many people are well aware of the PUA thing, so that was an invitation for them to not get caught up in the notion that it was being presented as new, and focus on the particular issues of the book campaign.

        1. A note about my note about Cory:  Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed.  Please accept my apologies.

          About my note about the article, Glen:  Let me first acknowledge that as a knowledge hipster, I found it off-putting.  I have never felt that having and elucidating upon knowledge on this site was an unwelcome attribute or activity.  I’m glad that you saw your admonition as an invitation to focus on the book campaign.  For me, and reading through the comments, for a lot of people, it had the exact opposite affect.  The debate, so far, has been mostly about pickup artists, and not about how we can encourage crowdfunding companies to be more responsive to user demands.

          Why is the pickup artist debate not useful here?  All debates about rape culture devolve into a territorial dispute about where “the line” is.  Most of BoingBoing’s readers would agree with your assessment of that boundary, and it’s great to see them come out in force and take down the outsiders who happen upon this blog.  But no matter where that line is, there will always be people on both sides of it.  And those people will continue to fight over that line until they get tired.  And neither of the opponents will have moved.

          This endless back-and-forth is sometimes useful.  It is useful when the audience is on widely different sides of the issue in question.  This is not the case here.  Almost everyone here agrees that pickup artists are creepy.  The question to them is whether or not it is sexual assault. But that is the wrong question.

          The right question is:  How do we encourage a crowdfunding campaign to defund that campaign once it’s clear that more people don’t want it to exist than want it to exist?

          I think you were getting to that question, and I think that by trying to encourage us to ignore the pickup artists question, you ended up encouraging us to do so.

          1. A knowledge hipster is not someone who “has and elucidates upon knowledge.” A knowledge hipster is someone who sees an article and says, “Meh. I’ve known about this since 1979. Why is it getting space on BoingBoing?”

            See pws above, who said “I am supposed to pretend that you’ve blown the lid off this subculture when the Mentalist did an episode about them?” Knowledge hipsters don’t encourage discussion; they make people feel stupid for trying to have a discussion that the knowledge hipster deems old hat.

            Which, I suppose, is exactly what you’re doing here. Fair enough.

            1. I’ve been trying for an hour now to come up with a way to say “thank you for proving me wrong” without sounding sarcastic.

              This really is food for thought, and a great definition of “knowledge hipster”.  I’m wrong and you are right.  My point, I thought, was a stylistic one, but in the process of making it I squashed a debate worth having and focused it upon myself.

              Thank you for helping me see that.

          2. “All debates about rape culture devolve into a territorial dispute about where “the line” is.”

            This has been generally focused on whether the book advocated sexual assault or not. Some side discussion on rape culture is separate from the back and forth by PUA defenders and those pointing out (and thus making the pointing out useful) that without a “yes,” consent is lacking and it’s assault.

            Hardly a line! There’s a legal definition in every state and most countries. The book’s advice, if followed, would meet the definition in a large number of cases.

            1.  No. The book advocates a line of behavior that is almost certainly definitionally sexual assault.

              The other 2,900 words are just potato salad for that pickle.

      2. I’m going to start calling myself a knowledge hipster now.

        Given that you didn’t even manage to identify the author of this post, I’ll be calling you an irony victim.

    22. That paragraph helped me understand both pickup artists and Turing-completeness. Also reminded me of the word “cisgendered”, which I love. If you like this blog, look them up. They come up surprisingly often. And it’s a great analogy, once you understand the terms. As a knowledge hipster, I was pretty impressed by it.

    23. While we’re on the subject of people feeling less than human… this whole debacle is teaching me a lot about my place in society, as a cisgendered heterosexual male with very little sexual history and few sexual prospects, i.e. a lonely guy.
      Since I was in junior high, my body has been sending me the message that I should find a way to have sex with women.  My hindbrain would notice a girl in class and flood me with all these ideas, and thankfully my forebrain vetoed most of them.  Things didn’t work quite like I hoped they would, as often happens to boys of low social stature.

      The media message I’ve been bombarded with is that my failure to close the deal makes me the worst brand of loser there is.  You can shame any man from anything unusual by pointing out that people who do that don’t get laid: watching Star Trek, playing D&D, any kind of collecting, any kind of engineering, failing to watch sports.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world seems to just take sex for granted.  It’s everywhere.  People around you don’t even have to try; they just fall into bed with each other.

      There are many ways to react to this: stifling one’s interests to try to “normal” your way out of virginity, or doubling down and getting into geek culture as though shared interests will cause the awkwardness to go away.  Maybe layering other demand-based skills on top of your personality, like dancing and cooking?  Make friends, join clubs.  Make friends who are women; maybe one of them will like me if she gets to know me.  When none of this works, it’s natural to wonder if there’s someone who can actually help the problem that you’ve defined.

      The messages I’m getting from this thread are: “They exist, they teach you basically how to rape..  If you’re looking for a way to cause women to like you, then that’s manipulation and just as bad. If the women of the world have spoken, and they all agree that you’re unlovable, then there’s nothing else that you can ethically do.  Some people are just unlovable, and just don’t deserve the touch of a woman.  Such people should admit they’re unlovable and just stop trying, because if you ever succeeded, it would be a crime against nature.”

      You’ll all be pleased to know that I pretty much have given up.  I’m older and my hormones aren’t as insistent as they used to be.  I have a corporate job that values some skills that I have, so at least I’m useful for now.   I have a few friends, and sometimes I can help them and they say nice things.  My brother has a child, so my family doesn’t really need me to reproduce anymore.  I figure I should make an effort to stay alive at least as long as my parents are alive, and keep making sure my contribution to society is somehow a net positive, and stay out of where I’m not wanted.

      Maybe I’ll start a pro-depression subreddit to promote this lifestyle.

      1. As a gay man, all I would need to do to get laid would be to make eye contact and then not run away. It wouldn’t, however, likely lead to any kind of meaning in my life, so I don’t bother. There’s no point in pursuing activities (including reading manuals) that lead to a different conclusion than the one that you really want.

        You certainly don’t sound like you’re interested in a quick fuck with someone whom you’ll never see again, so what value would there be in training for that scenario?

      2.  “Such people should admit they’re unlovable”: Oh my god, no, that’s not it. It’s that by pursuing techniques that are designed to turn women into counters on a game, it degrades everyone and potentially trains otherwise reasonable men to be sociopaths or sexual assailants (in the worst case).

        I can’t comment on your particular situation, as I don’t know you and didn’t know you while you were growing up. I have known a fair number of guys who never managed to ignite with a partner ever or for long, and I’ve generally been mystified, knowing their positive qualities.

        This may sound terrible, but the first thing my wife said when I described PUAs to her. She said, “Why don’t they pay for sex? Why go through all his?” It’s a good question. Prostitution goes in and out of style, and in the Western world it’s currently in ascendance because of Craigslist and other sites.

        Paying for sex is seen as a failure. But it’s actually part of the social fabric. It exists because of demand, and the current setup allows some women (and men) to set up circumstances that are physically and disease-wise safe rather than where people are in a position of desperation and abuse. Some cities and countries have referral and recommendation services, even.

        1. I’m always amazed at how absent masturbation is from the equation. I would much rather spend some quality time with my right hand than with someone who is not enthusiastic about fucking me.

          What PUA material I’ve been able to bring myself to read suggests to me that the “art” is much more about status than it is about the sensual gratification of getting laid. This makes ‘solutions’ that address the problem as essentially libidinal, such as masturbation or seeing a prostitute, worse than useless. Your buddies are sure as hell never going to envy you for how often you jerk off, no matter how much you enjoy it.

          1. They must get laid to cover up the void within. If they don’t at all costs, they’ll be a loser. They’ll show the world! Manipulating someone into fucking them makes them a worthy individual.

            1. yeah, thats actually a pretty good stating of the messages that males get in today’s society. I realize that you are trying to be sarcastic, but your comment is actually a very true description of many male’s thought process. 

              The problem isn’t pickup artists, though, its much bigger than that. Its too deeply ingrained in our society to be the result of one small offshoot of main stream society. 

        2. “Why don’t they pay for sex? Why go through all his?”

          Because its not really about the sex. It’s about having power over a woman which translates to compensation for a long list of insecurites.. I’ll bet for the dedicated sleezy pua, the more a woman doesn’t want it, the sweeter it is if she breaks down and hands over the keys.

          1. you’re right, its not really about the sex. but you’re also wrong: its not about having power over a women. 

            its about the desire for human companionship in a society that continually sends and reinforces the message that the best way to get human companionship is through the act of intercourse. They want companionship, but are told they really want sex, and so try to find ways to get sex. 

             “I’ll bet for the dedicated sleezy pua, the more a woman doesn’t want it, the sweeter it is if she breaks down and hands over the keys.”

            and I’ll bet that you have never spent anytime reading any pickup artist material and are making your assumptions based on some preconceived bias you have, not reality.

        3. well, paying for it would be great, but how can I know for sure that the woman I’m seeking services from isn’t human-trafficked?  there’s another moral panic…

          1. Vastly easier in some places in which there are referral systems; harder where it’s more frowned upon and underground. Also, no pimp and no intermediary.

        4. It seems to be almost unbelievably difficult for men, gay or straight, to admit that they’re not sufficiently interested in sex to go to any length to obtain it. This is one of those times that I’m profoundly grateful that I was born not caring what anyone thinks about me.

      3. they way your writing about your situation it seems like you haven’t really given up, your hurting and your lonely and thats fine and understandable

        until i met my wife i was in a similar situation: I was in my late 20’s never had a real girl friend (been on one or two dates with a few girls before being given my walking papers) and had never had a sexual/physical experience.
        you might be younger or older than i was but when you are in that place in life the feelings are the same

        i think my point is, i understand where you are at, im sure lots of other people do as well and there’s always a chance you will meet someone at some point in your life so be looking for them

        and dont worry about a woman not being into your hobbies, love your hobbies, my wife and i have very few hobbies/ interests  in common and its not an issue at all, what we have in common is that we love each other and we give each other space to love our individual interests, look for something like that

      4. I gotta chime in here because yours is the voice that gets stifled here. The immediate reactions to the systematicity of PUA tactics as inherently evil basically tell dudes like you “You’re fucked. You can’t even exercise this kind of basic agency because wanting to perceive human interactions as a game to be played is ontologically unethical.” 
        PUA tricks are really just a set of explicit instructions that attempt to distill basic human interactions. Yeah, I said it: it’s okay to reduce human interaction to a code if you don’t comprehend it all. How else are you to apprehend it at all?  The presentation of  a systematic, goal-based approach is appealing to these awkward dudes for two reasons: the sense of agency, the “i can do this!” that comes from following a process someone else claims will work; and a way to break down a daunting task into discrete elements that you can logically overcome. There’s a lot of good advice in these guides, and there’s a lot of incredibly shitty advice. In fact, normal people do this stuff without thinking, so PUA tactics are really just simplified heuristics.At the risk of seeming apologetic:This shit is largely not evil. If you’re a bitter asshole who thinks women are objects to be possessed, then yes, your application is going to be reprehensible.  Remove the negs and physical escalation (and the clearly abusive stuff), make the teleology about connection, rather than fucking, and you’ve got a pretty good self improvement plan for awkward dudes to psych themselves up to talk to women. No one should have to be alone. Awkward women can always get laid. Awkward dudes just get pitying looks. Some dudes just need a little extra help. This kind of systematicity is super useful for people, say, on the autism spectrum.  Sociopaths are gonna be sociopaths, whether they follow clearly defined tactics explicated on this Kickstarter or just go into the wild of sociality and wing it. But these same sociopaths ruin it for everyone else. 

        1. > >Awkward women can always get laid. Awkward dudes just get pitying looks.

          Pure bullshit. Viewing women as keepers of the sexy times that can get as much sex as they want no matter what they look like or what their social confidence may be is exactly what leads to this shitty attitude from PUAs and their kin.

          Newsflash: women cannot just press a button and have a sexual partner show up on their doorstep. Having breasts and a vagina is not a free pass to a buffet line of men.

          I know because I am one of those “awkward women” that’s in her late 20s and has never had sex or any kind of relationship. It’s not from lack of interest or trying, there simply hasn’t been anybody interested in having sex with me. Maybe I’m ugly. Maybe I’m awkward, whatever. but according to you I apparently don’t exist.

          Some of you men feel bad about your situation? At least even the internet doesn’t deny you exist.

          1. There’s also the issue of selectivity.  You could probably go to a bar any night and have a good chance of going home with a guy, if you really really didn’t care who that guy was, and also didn’t mind being in a bar for the requisite period of time.  
            I’d probably have more sexual experience if I had lowered my standards.  Sometimes I feel guilty for having standards, and putting other people in the same position I’m in.  But it cements the idea that this is how nature works.

            1. Again – you’re assuming that I haven’t. You think I haven’t sat in some bar all night and tried to strike up a conversation with someone?

              We aren’t that different. The difference is that I can relate and am emphatic to you as a man while you refuse to accept that I as a woman have many of the same problems and feelings you do.

              That lack of empathy and viewing women (only women that “fit your standards,” rather) as things to obtain and manipulate to get them? That’s the thing that people are balking at and trying to explain to you.

              Yes, I wish I could find companionship, too. Being alone is an awful thing. I do not even dare think I am entitled to some man’s penis as a result.

            2. You might want to meet some nice divorced 50 year old guys who have finally gotten their kids off to college only to discover they are largely untouchable on the dating scene.

          2. Wow.  All of your late 20s.  Come back when you’re 50 and I’d say you have something  approaching a problem.  There are more life-long “lonely guy” males than there are gay males.

        2. “No one should have to be alone.”

          Someone who supports rapey activity believes that a person is entitled to sex, I’m shocked.

          1. So you’re pleased that I’ve given up?

            I just want to see someone admit it, with their name behind it.

            1. If you were otherwise planning on using these techniques and can’t get laid without trickery and repeatedly breaching consent, yes. You deserve to be alone forever (aka until you drop these acts). Unlike how you perceive yourself, you are not a “nice guy”.



              *PS: The rest of us dudes are more than able to talk to women as women and treat them right.

              *PPS: There are plenty of mentally ill and abusive women who don’t deserve a partner either but they’re not the topic here.

          2. No. No should have to be alone. And yes, I believe everyone is entitled to sex with someone who wants to have sex with them. I don’t support rapey activities.

            1. who’s gonna teach these skills?

              Once again, the skills that are being taught are not going to lead to anything positive. Once upon a time, your father taught you how to interact with women, and the main themes were making them feel safe in your presence and making them feel like you were interested in what they had to say. In other words, doing things that fostered a relationship. This has nothing to do with that. It’s just predators and prey. Nobody needs that training.

            2. I wonder if we’re at the end game in segments of Western society in which women’s agency, once seen as invalid, has risen to such a high level that the response from those in privilege threatened by it is to set up wall after wall of bullshit, expressed through mainstream culture and subcultures that attempt to fight back the rising tide?

              Just as marriage equality suddenly, massively broke through walls that I thought would last for decades more, a desire for equality and fairness threatens those that have defined themselves by their status relative to those they deemed to have less agency.

      5. I know that feel.

        My personal opinion on it (which will probably be seen as anti-female, but in reality isn’t), is that males in today’s society get the short end of the stick. actually, let me rephrase that. 

        There is a spectrum of males in society, with both extremely high value males (like pro-sports players, CEOs, celebrities, the military, etc) and extremely low value males (fat, poor, dumb, homeless, jobless, retarded, etc). My theory is that it isn’t a normally distributed spectrum. There are not very many high value males, but a plethora of low to extremely low value males. The majority of males are considered low value.

        The spectrum of females in our society, however, has a much tighter distribution where the majority of females are considered to be high value and there are much fewer lower value females.  

        People say that there should be gender equality, but they usually say that in context of giving females an advantage. This is my perception as someone who considers themselves a high value male. I hate how there are all kinds of scholarships and mentorship programs and other form of advocacy programs for females but none for males. I don’t want to get rid of the female programs, I want there to be programs for males, too!

        The only reason I consider myself a high value male is because I’ve spent the better part of my life actively improving myself. I wasn’t always this way. Now I’m 27 and in a much better position in life because of my efforts over the years. I look back at who I was and I’m ashamed. Self improvement is a good thing. 

        This kickstarter campaign is for a book that hopes to instruct low value males on how to be high value males. I don’t see anything wrong with that. The target audience is males who want to improve their lot in life. I don’t see anything wrong with that. The specific goal of the target audience is to have sexual relations with women. I don’t see anything wrong with that. The kickstarter campaign is being lambasted because it is perceived as an unethical method of dealing with women. I do have a problem with that!

        Nobody bats an eye when marketing agencies try to manufacture the desire to buy a product. Nobody cares when a salesperson tries to convince you to buy a product. Nobody even notices the propaganda that is put out in order to create a sense of patriotism and nationalism in our country.

        But an author tries to raise funds to write a book to teach low value males how to become sexually desirable to females and the whole fucking world goes crazy.

        I hate double standards.

      6. Not pleased that you’ve given up. I had years of my life being desperately lonely, and when I wasn’t I’ve no idea what I was doing different.  Have you tried computer dating?  There are sites that even cater to geeks. I’ve been coupled since they became prevalent, but if I wasn’t, that’s an avenue worth looking at.  

    24. Mixed in, however—sometimes in the same sentence—are appalling recommendations that pretend to be scientifically based and generalize certain forms of behavior.

      One of the things that disturbs me is the extent to which it is scientific – you develop strategies, then test, critique and perfect them to reach your objective. If you do it well enough, you’re basically using marketing strategies to create consent in the other person. You know the person wouldn’t accept if your cards were on the table. You predict points where there could be objections and preempt them. While we are complex beings, we are pretty susceptible to this kind of subversion, especially if we aren’t aware of it.  With a normal application of marketing strategies, you might end up with some junk or a timeshare you don’t want, but only realize this once you are removed from the situation. Still, you did express verbal consent to this and ‘willingly’ paid money for it. When this strategy is applied to relationships there is never actually true consent in any of the situations: you have set out to manufacture consent by deceit and trickery, so even ’yes’ doesn’t mean ‘yes’. It’s not a question of “did she say no/push you away/express definite refusal?”. You’ve already prepared for that and rigged the system. Consent doesn’t come into it in a meaningful way.

      1. “One of the things that disturbs me is the extent to which it is scientific”

        It’s not. It’s waving a dead chicken and claiming causality.

        1. It’s not supposed to be a complement, and I’m not suggesting that his methods are all scientific – just that the subreddit seems to be approaching the ‘problem’ by developing a marketing strategy which exploits psychological weaknesses. It’s creepy as hell, but I disagree with mausium that the real success comes from confidence building. Basically, the goal is not to develop a real relationship (this might even be counterproductive to some of these people). They are looking for ways to get into a girl’s pants as quickly as possible, so they systematically optimize their methods to achieve the desired result.

          ‘Negging’ is not primarily about insulting women, and if it were counterproductive to their aims they would probably drop it, even if they really felt that way about the people they were talking to. It’s about creating a psychological need and exploiting the other person’s fears about themselves in order to gain the dominant position in the exchange and present yourself as the fulfillment of that need. the confidence, clothes and other elements of the interaction are also designed to support this aim.

          The principle is the same as with a short term sale – the goal is not a long term relationship, you want to bring the other person to the point where they might almost feel as if this was their idea, by using suggestion, preempting opposition and leaving them with no comfortable option but to accept your suggestion. It doesn’t matter to you if the other person feels used or cheated after the event, as long as you achieved your initial aims and made the ‘sale’. These may seem like cheap marketing tricks (and it would be in this guy’s interests to oversell their effectiveness), but it is based on analyzing real human flaws, developing strategies and testing them against reality.

          Basically, I oppose the idea that if something is bad, it’s also bullshit (i.e. this is pseudosience, but blowing up a bottle of drano and silver foil with no predictions or write up is science). I’d agree that it’s a fairly loose definition of ‘science’, but it’s similar to to the psychology employed by magicians or marketers to trick someone into believing something or to manufacture consent in another person.

          1. “‘Negging’ is not primarily about insulting women”

            Yes, it is.  That’s the entire fucking point.
            You’re delusional.

            1. I believe what he means is that it’s about insulting women in service of the primary goal of getting them into bed. 

              If it were primarily about insulting women, these guys would just stand around yelling “FUCK YOU UGLY BITCH” at any woman in earshot with no regard to the deleterious effect on their sex lives.

            2. Thanks, that is what I meant. I’m not sure if it makes it worse that the person is mainly insulting you as a means to an end (rather than just because they have poor social skills and no sense of self-awareness), but it certainly adds another element to the douchebaggery.

            3. @mfux5jr2:disqus  Thank you, I understand where you were coming from a bit better, sorry for being a dick. :)

      1. Randall seems to agree with my premise, then.  “what part of forever alone do you not understand?”

        1.  You do realize the premise of that webcomic is the guy got that reaction because he was attempting “negging,” a tactic of trying to undermine a woman’s self-esteem so she’ll “want” the guy, right? Do you even comprehend the idea that any relationship defined by one person treating another person like garbage just to get sex (which is what PUAs generally, and the book in question specifically, readily admit is the aim) is kind of messed up? Your passive-aggressive attempts to turn this discussion into an attack on “lonely guys” such as yourself says more about you than about the world you feel has unfairly treated you.

        2. Ugh…let me guess.  When you do get up the nerve to talk to women you try to guilt them into having sex with you by laying on about as much self-pity as you have in this thread.

          You know, I’ve done that before.  It’s not going to work.  It just makes you a creep.

          You get to decide your own victory conditions for life, dude.  Stop worrying so much about sex and it will probably happen when you least expect it.  Feel good about what there is to feel good about, life is too short to worry about what you don’t have.

    25. Does anyone else here see a serious disconnect between the book and the Reddit posts?  Can someone verify that the Reddit posts are actually in the pickup artist book?  I have yet to see such a claim – and if not, then this whole fiasco blew up for no reason: It appears to me that people are trying to censor the author, not the content of the book, because we don’t know for sure what is in the book.  Utterly ridiculous. 

      1. “if not, then this whole fiasco blew up for no reason”

        Sorry, MRA. You don’t get to judge what others feel and claim that everyone else is irrational.

        1. People are demanding that a book should have been censored  – but they are quoting from an online post that has not been verified as contained in the book.  Can you – or anyone – explain to me how that is appropriate?

        2. Damn you for making me take this side, but yeah, one does get to judge, if what others feel is based on incorrect assumptions and therefore irrational.

          If I said “I feel that this author is a racist because he has the same name as an infamous white Rhodesian militia leader,” you would be perfectly correct in judging the invalidity of my feelings because 1) no he doesn’t, and 2) having the same name wouldn’t imply common purpose regardless.

          Dazen puts forth that we don’t know the content of the book. This is true. Based on the author’s Reddit posts, we can make an educated guess, but ultimately you are assuming facts not in evidence. 

          (BTW, telling people to fuck off and throwing around baseless insults like MRA is not exactly rational behavior… Unless you’re a plant trying to make feminists look bad.)

          1. We do know precisely what the author intended. From his Kickstarter page: “Above The Game is a popular step-by-step guide for getting good with women. I am publishing it as a full-length book”

            And elsewhere, in defending himself (linked above), he quotes verbatim from his Reddit posts.

            1. I stand corrected. I didn’t realize the “try again a little while later” stuff was an example of what he was putting forth as a defense.

              (However, I still take issue with anyone saying “you don’t get to judge.” Everyone gets to judge.)

            2. Everyone gets to judge. You’re not the arbiter of reality, though.

              Your opinions on whether others are “being irrational” mean very little to them, objectively, especially it’s because your own fee-fees are hurt and you’re overlooking your own personal biases.

              It’s not just an insult, BTW. The main people supporting the PUA scene are “mens rights activists” who believe women are trickster devils and this is the “only” way that men can “combat” them.

            3. …who believe women are trickster devils and this is the “only” way that men can “combat” them.

              Sounds like a lot of fantasy writers.

            4. mean very little to them, objectively

              (That’s the opposite of “objectively.”)

              Calling someone who hasn’t self-identified as such an MRA is an insult because those guys are whiny idiots.

      2.  On the Kickstarter page Hoinsky linked to his reddit posts and quite clearly said that a lot of his reddit content would be published in the book … something you would know if you had clicked the above article’s link to the Kickstarter page.  Here it is again:


        (A web archive link because Kickstarter has deleted the original page.)

    26. Have you heard of fiction? There’s a difference between a novel or tv show and a “manual” for picking up women, interested or not. I might or might not like Girls or 50 Shades (not having seen/read either). But just because something takes place in a fictional setting doesn’t mean it’s ok to try it with an unwilling person in the real world…

    27. False equivalency.
      “Never ask me that again in my whole life” is not equivalent to, “Any old guy should just do this to me at any time” In fact, that statement implicitly answers his question with a positive, while also saying he doesn’t need to ask again. Much of “Above the Game” is about using dishonesty (“Throwing out a “I don’t sleep with someone on the first date.” or “No
      sex, okay?” will do wonders. It all helps to generate “plausible
      deniability,”) and abusive tactics (“When you get her number, I find it powerful to throw in a “Now you’re not one of those girls who flakes all the time, right?” in a somewhat accusatory tone”) to wear down a woman psychologically.

    28. Crazy generalizing.  From your source:  “50 Shades of Grey is a fantasy, and real people usually aren’t as naturally in sync as Christian and Ana.”  “Above the game” skips the part about making sure it’s consensual.  Fantasy novels can skip it too, but without consequences, whereas if a guidebook advises skipping consent, it’s at times advocating rape.  Also, I’ve a young friend who’s a crazy fangirl for both the guy in Dexter and the guy in Hannibal.  This does not mean she’d secretly be thrilled to hook up with a serial killer.  

    29. “treating that cisgendered biological configuration as a Turing-complete machine in which specifying the right sequence of inputs results in access to specific ports and protocols.”

      Stopped reading there! Congratulations on having written the dumbest, most vapid, PC-buzzwordy sentence on the Internet.

    30. This sort of thing is all over.  I saw a book on Salesmanship that promotes Robbery Culture.  If the victim (therein called “The Prospect”) initially says “no” then the advice is to try another tack until the sales process can continue.  No mention is made (for whole paragraphs!) of the social, emotional, political, bio-mechanical or electrostatic aspects of the  other person: they are simply regarded as ambulatory wallets to be plundered because the salesman has some sort of divine right to have money.  (Are authors of monographs monomaniacs or what?  And don’t get me started on the “How to Play Lacrosse” authors – they’re the worst!)  It’s this sort of attitude that enables and inevitably leads to bursting through someone’s front door with a shotgun and robbing them at gunpoint.  Without this sort of guidance towards greedy exploitation from mainstream culture criminals would never do these sorts of things.  After all, it’s not like they’re part of some anti-social “underworld” or something.

      Worse of all is the attempt to offer analytical help to the disgusting cripples who don’t even have the ability to read social signals as we (therefore rich) natural-born salespersons do.   This lack of ability is solely due to moral turpitude and should not be mollycoddled – it’s an insult to Darwinism.  It would be different if it was a lack of analytical ability because those people are simply afflicted with developmental difficulties against which they must nobly struggle so they deserve our aid.  People lacking in social skills are just assholes.   This can be scientifically shown by the presence of a magic blue force field around the brain structures used in the exercise of social skills which protects them from all harm and deviation from the statistical norm.   And anyway it’s doubtful if those abilities have any basis in the physical world; they are purely spiritual and come from psychic emanations of Higher Beings towards the Chosen Ones.  Principally the fish god Yob I believe.

      No, we must take a leaf from the wildly successful campaign against Terrorism Culture and have Zero Tolerance towards anything that is a necessary component of  any criminal activity.

    31. It’s almost as if persons have to learn to communicate properly and pick up on nonverbal communications.

      A woman telling a man not to ask explicitly is NOT THE SAME THING as a man hearing NO and continuing to assault her.

      She’s not saying to ignore issues of consent, if you read the actual articles you’re linking to. S&M doesn’t work that way.

    32. PUA has a lot of useful social dynamics, but often a lot of misogyny. It’s important to know the difference. My concern is that some guys will apply what they’ve learned without considering the latter.

      Here’s a more refined take on the subject:

      1. Just perused your site, and, yeah, this is so much more sensible, intelligent, and less objectifying. Good god, you even have a dating coach write who is a woman! But it’s more well-rounded.

        My wife is a social dancer (and teaches), and her advice to all men who cannot seem to find the right woman is to find a social dance scene and take a ton of lessons and become good enough (as most people can with persistence) to be an enjoyable partner even if you’re not the greatest dancer. A enjoyable dancer partner doesn’t force physical contact, either, but a trusted partner gets the benefit of physical attention for a few minutes even from women in relationships, and the potential with women who are not to forge something deeper.

        It still relies on signals! But dancing I think can help a lot of people learn to intellectually read signals that they may not intuitively get because of the structure that underlies dance. Isolates some factors for those who need it.

        Refinedself: Do you also write about how to back off and not bother women? Consistent complaint I hear from women is that they are at a bar, on a park bench, wherever, sending 100% of the message that they do not want to be bothered, and all the PUAs etc in the world bother them in a continuous stream.

        1. Thanks Glenn. “When to back off” would make a good topic. You’re welcome to add a comment to any of the posts on the site.

    33. “some people view what is described in some of the author’s posts as sexual assault”: Rather, some people know the definition of physical assault and some people do not.

    34. Kickstarter is insulting women by acting as if they are stupid and defenseless against these evil PUAs.  They also censored *all* books of this type, not just the one in question.  If the methods don’t work, why the outcry?  Not only becuase the methods *do* work, but because women want to pretend that they don’t actually like these men; if they respond to a playbook that is published online, they lose the plausible deniability they use to string along the nice guys. 
      Some women here have said that *no* pursuit from men is accetpable, that we are not “entitled” to women’s bodies.  Agreed.  So why tell men that their “soulmate” will show up if they just “be themselves?”  Because fi you don’t, you can’t sucker this guy into spending time, money, and attention in the *hope* that implied promise will materialize.  When it doesn’t, and the decent man complains, he’s told he’s a whining loser with a sense of entitlement.  If he goes the other ways, says he’s not entitled, and gives up, he’s told to get back in the game and shut up.  Women just want to control the selection process.  What they call “rape culture” is just their annoyance at “losers” who answer the mating calls they put out for the “winners.”  Women can’t admit to being into men for their money, or status, so they have to demonisze the ones they reject, even as they solicit aggressive behavior from the “high-value” men they seek.  Most PUA tactics are designed for how women really choose men, something women don’t want to admit.   The men who play Captain-Save-A-Chick would rather blame the men than admit that women are not being honest about what they like.
      Kickstarter is free to censor an entire category of books (kind of like the casinos throwing out the card-counters), but they can lose relevance, as the most cutting-edge creators will in fact create or populate rival websites.  The losers will be people who think they are getting honest, open debate, when in fact the message has been filtered by others.  In this case, women just don’t want men doing anything but shutting up and settilng for what women think they deserve.
      I’ve written several PUA books.  I designed the “pivot” technique of simply showing up with a hotter woman, and ignoring the women at a place.  Obviously not rape, or even aggression.  What pisses women off about the pivot is that it exploits their lie about not judging men based on the beauty of the women with whom a man is seeen.  Rather than admit women do this, they attack the messenger for writing it into a book so other men can learn from it.  Keep in mind that it is *all* PUA books that were banned, not just the one in controversy.  Anyone who supports this type of censorship can use their own words when something *they* do is censored. Not that I use a tin cup to fund my work; my best book (“Bettor Off Single”) is actually free. Though Kickistarter lumped it in with all other guides, there is *nothing* in there that preaches aggression. In fact, I preach the opposite, that men need to know the score, which includes how women keep score (looks, money, status, height, brains, creativity, etc.), and for the most desirable men, how to avoid being guilt-tripped into settling for women far less attractive than they can get with some knowledge and effort. “Game” won’t help a total loser, but it will help the winners find the keepres.

      Ray Gordon
      Author, “Bettor Off Single: Why Commitment Is A Bad Gamble For Men”

      1. Strawman #1: “Kickstarter is insulting women by acting as if they are stupid and defenseless against these evil PUAs”

        * No one says all PUAs are awful. But people fall into the field because of self-esteem and social awkwardness. I have since heard from many men who use PUA stuff while ignoring the picking-up-women part. Learning to read other people is great.

        * PUAs who subscribe to the Always Be Escalating philosophy in practice are sexual assailants. Kickstarter is now saying that it is impossible, based on this experience, to differentiate among seduction book based on the material that will be provided on Kickstarter between ones that ostensibly advocate self-esteem and those that advocate behavior that is definitionally sexual assault.

        * It is not insulting to women (or any orientation, gender, etc.) to suggest that they shouldn’t be subjected to assault. The book advises a form of consent that involves coercion and escalation, as nicely as they try to put it. Not all PUA books do, of course. What you’re trying to do rhetorically here is say, “women can take care of themselves.” Of course they can. But we also know that sexual harassment and assault aren’t about “taking care of themselves.” Putting anyone in a position where the “taking care of themselves” part involves continuous resistance, verbal and physical, creates a hostile environment for everyone.

        Strawman #2: “If the methods don’t work, why the outcry? ”

        Most sexual assault isn’t reported. By what measure do you define “works”?

        Strawman #3: “Some women here have said that *no* pursuit from men is acceptable, that we are not “entitled” to women’s bodies.  Agreed.”

        I don’t believe any woman here has stated it in those terms. What has been said over and over is that advocating a game-oriented system of continuous pressure for physical objectives, whether in early stages at a bar or public place up and through private intimate encounters, is not what any of them want, and they may generalize beyond that. Learning to read signals or listen to explicit statements instead of assuming that 100% of responses are “the woman can be convinced so long as you wait and try again” is the message.

        Strawman #4: “What they call “rape culture” is just their annoyance at “losers” who answer the mating calls they put out for the “winners.””

        Rape culture is when one uses physical and societal coercion to bypass consent for sexual purposes. A man who a woman gives no indication to that she is providing consent to physical contact and who then persists is an assailant. The real issue is that the guys you call “losers” (nice neg there, bro!) are ones who either lack desirable traits to the subset of women they find attractive or who lack self-esteem and send out the wrong signals.

        You seem to have the same worldview as the Above the Line book: that the “winners” are physically aggressive and their self confidence is what makes them succeed in vagina access. That if one learns all the right signals, this bypasses women’s agency. It’s a reductionist view that is used by people who turn others into objects of their actions.

        Strawman #5 (I’m skipping a bunch): ” Unless you’re a chump who wants to spend money on women, worship women,
        demonize your own gender, and settle for an ugly wmoan who rations sex
        and makes you feel like she’s doing you a favor, you “hate women.” ”

        So much anger here. You must hate women so much. This is the basis of sex as a violent act, and the ugly attitude I find throughout PUA sites (though, as has been pointed out, isn’t consistently there nor what many men turn to the techniques for).

        Women are keeping something from you that you are entitled to.

        “I designed the “pivot” technique of simply showing up with a hotter woman, and ignoring the women at a place.”

        I wonder if you carry around a card that gets hole-punched at bars or has a score on it like a golf card.

        “”Game” won’t help a total loser, but it will help the winners find the keepres while avoiding the toxic women.”

        The other, the other, the other. A woman is not a partner or a human but some other kind of being outside one’s emotional interest or worth.

        “I’m glad my methods are so powerful that only censorship can stop them!”

        It’s amazing how censored you are, giving away your free book and posting here.

    35. I’m the guy whose book “Outfoxing The Foxes” and then “29 Reasons Not To Be A Nice Guy” defined the modern PUA movement.  I said that this confrontation was going to happen one day, but Mystery went in another direction and he had the media attention.  This has been my endgame all along, where you get this:

      1.  Nice guys say women want jerks
      2.  PUAs say women want PUAs
      3.  Women say they want nice guys
      4.  Women still aren’t choosing nice guys

      The question is: WHO IS LYING?

      Publishing a PUA books is irrefutable proof to any nice guy that the women are the ones lying.  The women can’t have this, because it makes them look awful.  The women want to act as if they would choose the nice guy, if only they weren’t so easily fooled by these awful jerks.  With books like this, they cano no longer call it a well-intentioned mistake.

      The women have two options:

      1.  Admit they like jerks/PUAs
      2.  Start having sex with nice guys

      They chose:

      3.  Censor the PUA books so the nice guys won’t read them and women can pretend they don’t exist.

      Ray Gordon, Author
      “Bettor Off Single: Why Commitment Is A Bad Gamble For Men”
      (The Book Kickstarter Doesn’t WAnt You To Read!”)

      1.  “Women still aren’t choosing nice guys”

        It is fantastic the statistical rigor you bring to the dating and hook-up scene.

    36.  If you read around you will find plenty of criticism of 50 Shades of Grey.  I have read the books and know that it is easy to ignore the problematic parts of the book’s main relationship.  Your link says that fans were “captivated by the fantasy of a man who does everything his lover needs — and does it without being asked.”  Please notice the word “needs” … the seduction guide does not seem concerned with the needs of the women that these men are picking up.  It quite clearly states that when a woman says no that the man should “take a break and try again later” (yes, that is a direct quote from Hoinsky’s reddit posts).  Assuming that you can wear a woman down until she stops saying no is not the same as getting verbal or non-verbal consent.

      Although the Buzzfeed article ignores the negatives of the relationship (it briefly mentions that the male’s behavior sometimes verged on the “stalkerish”) this does not mean that there are none.  If I remember correctly, his stalking behavior includes doing a background check on her and using that information to show up at her work (after having met once and not exchanging information), along with using her cell phone’s GPS to track her location.  I also think that the people going on about the main character’s “connection” ignore the fact the female was uncomfortable the first time they had sex and incredibly upset the first few times that he spanked her.

      Please understand that a woman can want to have sex and not want a man to force himself on her.

    37. This whole discussion seems lost in the weeds when it seems very simple to resolve.
      Was there consent by both parties to sexual activity?  Then its ok.  If there is no consent then you’re engaging in assault.
      Am I oversimplifying this?

      1. Yes, a bit. If it were that simple, the discussion wouldn’t be raging.

        The issue at stake is how much agency is involved in consent, how much coercion, how much manipulation? The guys who follow PUA strategies can vary wildly, but the fundamental part appears to be about exuding self-confidence and taking action. Some guides and individuals equate self-confidence with physically aggressive acts that meet the definition of sexual assault. Others rely on verbal interaction, read the cues, and consent is mutual. The book is very clearly on the side of “always escalate” and “no is only temporary.”

        Someone elsewhere in this thread suggested that this is all belittling to women, assuming they have no agency to reject such advances. The burden always falls on the woman to rebuff, and she may get worn down or be even cowed by repetitive physical escalation that she stops rebuffing. Is that consent? Many in that situation would say it is not consent but coercion. Men will often say, whether they employ that strategy or not, “She can just say no.” But that’s absurd: women are often put in positions in which through social, evolutionary, or physical circumstances make that difficult or impossible.

        It is not a woman’s fault (or anyone being propositioned) that she didn’t say no “enough.”

        The part that PUA people bring up is that plenty of men who rely on these techniques look at a different sort of guy who can walk up to women, be physically aggressive, and have it welcomed — implicit consent sent through signals. (That kind of guy can also go way over the line, too, but they haven’t been advised in writing and seminars how to act.)

        The trouble with consent is that it doesn’t have to be spoken, but a “yes” has to be given, not a “no.” When a fellow makes an honest mistake in reading intent, apology, backing off, and breaking off the physical interaction could help mitigate whether it gets defined as assault or not (depends on the extremity of the action, too, of course). But the “continuous physical escalation” writing in this book and other PUA guides doesn’t allow for that.

        1. OK, I see your point.  It is as simple as I think, except that people are operating under an incorrect understanding of what consent means.  Thus, its not simple. :)

          However, I am uncomfortable with lumping manipulation and coercion together.  If I am “manipulated” into doing something I am still personally responsible for my decision and the consequences of whatever it is I do.  That is, I have personal agency, even if I’ve been manipulated by someone.  Coercion is different – that means doing something against my own desire b/c I choose to do it to avoid some other outcome being forced on me.

          My point is that all people, and that includes women, have their own agency and it can’t be taken away from them, even by some set of skeazy manipulative psychological techniques.

          Writing a book of those manipulative techniques and practicing them like a game is still pretty gross.  What’s the point of hooking up if my partner’s not really into it?

      2. Yup. The problem is that the PUA definition of consent and the non-creepy, non-annoying, non-coercive definition of consent are different. Only yes means yes (as the article clearly states) but the framework of this particular manual depicts consent differently: only “NO!” means no. Other, more basic ways of showing disinterest and refusal are, apparently, to be ignored until the woman is worn down and just gives in because it’s easier than putting up with the wheedling asshole in question for another two minutes. That’s not consent. That’s how you got your mom to buy you Lucky Charms when you were four. It’s the “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” approach to consent, and it’s just as frustrating, immature, and selfish as it was when these dudes were kids. And that’s the least of it  — immaturity is no excuse for assault.

        1. Seems like the guys who use PUA for self-esteem and not solely as a method to coerce intercourse should come up with a better term. I’ve had a fair number of discussions with non-skeezy PUA users who don’t actually use it for the PU part at all.

      3. If everyone was required to sign a document before engaging in sexual activity then consent would be obvious. This isn’t the case, instead, what constitutes consent is determined by the society and culture you live in. The PUA community is pushing for a societal definition where consent is the lack of any active rejection on the part of the woman, and that that woman is supposed to set all of the boundaries of a relationship because the man is always up for sex. Taken to its logical conclusion, this definition means that a drunk, passed out woman is consenting. I would rather live in a society that defines consent differently–requiring active participation on the part of all parties involved in sexual activity to consent. The default assumption should be no consent. 

        While there is nothing wrong with PUA in theory, the PUA community buys into and promotes mindset about sex that is ultimately degrading to both men and women.

    38. The article was painful to read and paints a woefully inaccurate portrait of the non-commercial side of the pick-up community.  As somebody who has had my life enriched by some of the guys on the pick-up forums, I am just saddened by this poor excuse for a modern-day witch hunt. 

      1. You are defending the pick-up community.  Any “community” that believes WOMEN — human beings — should be or deserve to be “picked up” is already making their disgusting intentions loud and clear.

        It is not our fault that you choose to align yourself with a community that desires to “pick up” women.

        1. Ahh, I see.  You disagree with their name, so the must be all terrible.  Interesting argument.  So if they called themselves the “dating community” or the “relationship advice community” then it would be all better?  Those descriptions are just as accurate as “pick up”.  The community is about helping men learn how to appropriately and effectively interact with the opposite sex.  That’s it. ZOMG, get the pitch forks!

          This community has done amazing things for my confidence and over-all happiness.  They were a resource for extremely helpful advice that was unavailable anywhere else in my life.

          1. If the community called itself the “better self artists” (BSA), and the part about using coercion instead of consent was a subculture (and one disdained in it), then, yeah.

            But that isn’t what’s happening at all. The pick-up crowd focused on women as objects dominate the forums, books, discussions, etc. I’ve discovered since I wrote this post that there are a ton of men who use the self-esteem and confidence techniques in PUA without focusing on the pick-up part, but they are drowned out in the overall approach.

            1. I’ve discovered since I wrote this post that there are a ton of men who use the self-esteem and confidence techniques in PUA without focusing on the pick-up part,

              I REALLY question this.  How much can you *really* separate these things?  There are other places and other ways to work on self-esteem and confidence.  The predatory nature of this movement is deeply ingrained in the PUA culture.  To try and separate it from the culture is incredibly naive, and dangerous.

            2. I wouldn’t go seeking out a path to social enlightenment in this method, but apparently others do. There’s are shades. The predatory part is dominant (and pretends not to be predatory), but I’ve been pointed to a lot more tame aspects of PUA that should shed the PUA label as they don’t seem consonant with the name.

              I’ve argued elsewhere in this comment section that it would be more sensible for those pushing a non-PUA approach to not call themselves PUAs, but I think the label has ceased to have literal meaning for some people. Maybe this whole book/crowdfunding situation will cause some rethink about that.

            3. @GlennFleishman:disqus  I don’t know, seems to me the large majority of these people defending the whole PUA culture — even bits and pieces of it — need therapy, not some online community.

              Some of them may genuinely be vulnerable, which is a shame, but others (like a few people here), I wonder about. I wonder if they aren’t just lazy. That, to me, doesn’t scream “nice guy” or nice person. It just screams entitled.

              There are so many other avenues to gain confidence. Why align yourself with such a shitty fucking community, when it also means having to spend so much time and effort defending it?

            4. You are unfairly focusing on the viewpoints of a vocal minority.  Your article has no counterpoint.  There are many guys like me who have been helped by men and women on the pick-up community forums.  By demonizing the community, you do a disservice to the people like me.  The main consumer of pick-up material are just nice guys who want a girlfriend who treats them well, but have no idea how to get one.  Unfortunately, our society doesn’t teach guys how to interact well with women.  Guys are logical, we can learn these skills.. but there’s nobody to teach us outside of the community.

              Your claims of objectification, coercion, and non-consensual interactions do not echo my experiences on the community forums at all.  Yes, there are a few bad apples (on every kind of internet forum), but mainly the conversations were about reading social cues, conducting yourself properly, and adding value to interactions.  “Negging” (so stupid) and memorizing lines to say to women are very outdated ideas in the community.  Unfortunately, that’s all you seem to hear about in the mainstream media. 

              The community is to men what Cosmo magazine is to women.  It’s just the same advice (articles) over and over and over again (be confident, don’t stay in bad relationships, how to be better in bed, etc.). 

          2. It’s more than just a name.  It’s their ENTIRE PHILOSOPHY.

            But, yes, titles of things and MOVEMENTS also aim to be descriptive.

            That’s why the “civil rights” movement is called, well, the civil rights movement.  Because that’s what it is.

            At least wear a sign, so if I were to ever run into you, I would know to avoid you like the plague.  Yuck.

            I prefer to engage with people who don’t need to rely on predatory “communities” to gain confidence. 

            And just because you think you’re an awesome, nice, wonderful guy, does not make it so.  Indeed, I’d say so proudly aligning yourself and defending such a disgusting “community” is, quite frankly, a damn good sign that you’re a Nice Guy(tm), and not an actually nice person.  And, yeah, I’m judging you.

            I’m not something to be “picked up”. I’m a damn human being. JUST LIKE YOU. We are not so different, you and I, but you can’t see that. Instead, you other me. All because I have a vagina.

            Perhaps if you thought of me as a human being, rather than as an object to “pick up”,, then perhaps you wouldn’t need to involve yourself in such a shady community to gain confidence.

            1. Well, thankfully, my girlfriend (2.5 years now, go me!) disagrees with you.  I’d never have met her without the knowledge I gained from the pick up community. 

              /haters gonna hate

    39. “Sleazebags” are exactly who you should be defending if you value freedom of speech.

      Feminists, Kickstarter and their Beta Boy lackeys like this author have set a dangerous precedent by getting the company to remove a Kickstarter campaign because they disagreed with it. Because to another group, gay people are the “sleazebags.” Who is to say these people shouldn’t also have their say when it comes to what Kickstarter helps back?

      And that’s just one example. Live by the sword; die by the sword. If you want things banned because it “promotes hate,” fine. But don’t be surprised when one say your group is the one characterizes as the one promoting “hate,” such as the “hatred” of religion, for example. There are far more fanatical Christians than feminists in this country so congrats, because you just opened the door for them to lobby the hell out of Kickstarter.

      1. Honestly, read the article before you comment.

        If gay people were advocating sexual assault and running a crowdfunding campaign, I suspect Boing Boing would write about it and criticize it.

        No one said it promotes hate. Seriously, do you have a macro that auto-pastes this?

        1.  It doesn’t matter what someone is crowd funding for someone to protest. To you bad = hate. To the other side sin = being gay. You know full well that to a lot of Christians, being gay is in and of itself something that goes “against God,” and they consider a man loving another man as bad as you consider “promoting hate.” In fact, they have the bible to allegedly back them up, while the concept of “hate speech” is questionable, at best, having been devised only fairly recently by the ADL.

          The left has “hate.” The right thumps the bible. In their own way, they consider “Heather Has Two Mommies” a form of hate against the bible. Why do you think they get so upset at a subsegment of the populace? Comparing what each side protest against by using specifics is comparing apples to oranges and being willfully ignorant. What each side considers “transgressions” is wildly different. But the fact is, the right CAN protest Kickstarter campaigns and as I said, Kickstarter and feminists opened the door to that.

    40. This one is touchy.

      On the one hand, his advice is mostly pretty sound. Most pickup artists advise dominance because it WORKS. Women love manly men. For most women, there’s just something so incredible about being in the moment, things getting hot and heavy, and guys being masculine on you. It’s all about the body language:

      BUT… Being dominant isn’t about being an abusive prick; it’s about taking charge like a leader, the chief of the village if you want to call it that. Letting a girl see your caveman side stops with a little hair pulling during sex or something like that. There is NO EXCUSE for physically assaulting a woman by shoving her out of your way in the club. This guy is asking for a set of handcuffs and the company of Big Bubba.Please don’t take him as an example of pick up artists. There’s a bad apple in every bunch, but there’s a reason he’s not a big name in the industry yet.

    41. I agree with you that the PUA advice is gross and advising to use tricks and schemes to push women into ‘consent’ that isn’t really consent is shameful.

      BUT, what is the alternative to people having trouble with their sexual life?  It’s usually trite meaningless advice OR encouragement to seek therapy (often cost prohibitive or looked down upon socially which is another problem entirely).  It’s obvious some people need a little hand-holding to get a jump start on interacting socially with those they find attractive.  It isn’t too hard to understand why a person who labels themselves “forever alone” or socially inadequate would look for advice online, and if the only substantial advice there is of the PUA variety, then a fraction (be it small or significant) of those seeking help will end up invested in this sort of awful misguided advice.  

      What I’m getting at is in all the discussion of this kickstarter fiasco, I’ve seen very little discussion of alternatives to PUA.  We can justifiably vilify these horrible symptoms of loneliness as much as we want, but it isn’t the worst idea to proactively discuss the disease as well. 

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