A few weeks ago, the internet exploded when Kickstarter handed over the money of hundreds of crowdfunders to a man named Ken Hoinsky. Hoinsky is a prominent member of Reddit’s “seduction” community, where men gather to share advice on “pickup artistry,” inspired by books like The Game and countless PUA websites. Hoinsky was using Kickstarter to fund the publication of his new book, Above The Game: A Guide To Getting Awesome With Women, and when excerpts of his advice, which had been posted on Reddit but not on Kickstarter, went public, people were understandably concerned. His advice is, well, pretty rapey. Kickstarter acknowledged that the Reddit material was “abhorrent,” apologized for funding the project at all, and pledged not to fund anything like it in the future.
I am not a pickup artist. I am a woman. And I think Ken Hoinsky and his ilk are hucksters and hacks.
But I do have some advice for you on getting awesome with women.
Don’t follow the advice of pickup artists.
Seriously, don’t. Unless you like handing over your hard-earned money to hucksters who are profiting from your totally reasonable apprehension about interacting with the opposite sex. In which case, be my guest. What’s the worst that could happen? (You could rape someone. That’s the worst that could happen).
Make eye contact. Listen. Nod, smile, ask and answer questions. You know, like you would in a regular conversation with a fellow human.
Be yourself. If you’re shy and nerdy, be shy and nerdy. If you’re outgoing and brash, be outgoing and brash. Very few people naturally have the instinct to insult or belittle fellow humans (pickup artists euphemistically call this “negging,” but let’s call it what it actually is), so if that’s not who you are, do not do it. And if you are one of those few people for whom “being yourself” means “insulting and belittling fellow humans,” finding someone to have sex with should not be your top priority right now.
“Hi, I’m [your name]. What’s your name?”
Understand that just as you might be apprehensive, they might be, too. This is because they are aware that you might be a rapist. If you knew there was about a one in six chance of being raped in your lifetime, you might be apprehensive around strange men, too.
Similarly, they might be apprehensive because they, too, find it difficult and scary to talk to members of the opposite sex. Pickup artists often make women out to be all-knowing and highly discriminating sex-dispensers who reject guys for fun and entertainment. Generally speaking, we are not. On the contrary, we are shy or nerdy or outgoing or brash people, just like you, who enjoy spending time with and sometimes having sex with people we find engaging and attractive. We get nervous about talking to you, too.
Signal to them that you care about what they think. Don’t talk over them. Don’t touch them without asking. Don’t buy drinks for them without asking first if they want one, or what kind of drink they want. If you don’t care about what she thinks here, she’s right to assume you won’t care about what she wants anywhere else — especially in bed.
Another note on buying drinks (or dinner, or ponies): please do not imagine that doing so entitles you to anyone’s time or attention. We don’t spend time with people because they’ve bought us stuff; we spend time with them because we enjoy spending time with them. If someone bought you a drink and then did something that creeped you out, would you feel obligated to keep talking to them until you’d finished your drink, or would you peace?
Don’t make “getting laid” your number one priority. Women are brought up believing that men only want one thing from them, and we’re pleasantly surprised when men contradict that conventional wisdom. Be pleasantly surprising and unconventional. If you’re simply looking to get off, stay home with your porn; if you’re looking to interact with other human beings, don’t put “come inside them” at the top of your to-do list.
Stop saying the words “friend zone.” Stop believing in the existence of a “friend zone.” Stop acting as though being friends with women is some kind of hellish existence you wouldn’t have to endure if only you had game. That’s insulting as hell, and it sorts women into two categories: friends and people you fuck. You know what a girlfriend is? A really good friend who you also have sex with.
Stop saying the words “alpha male.” Stop believing in the existence of “alpha males.” This is not the Sahara or the tundra. You are not a lion or a stag. You are not competing with other men for the right to have sex with the best women. If you act like you are, neither men nor women are going to want to hang out with you.
Treat them the way you’d want to be treated. Sorry to go all Jesus on you, but pickup artists have left me no choice. They’re all about manipulating women into trusting you, and capitalizing on their various weaknesses (physical, emotional, social) to get them into bed. Something tells me you’d hate it if people tried to pull that shit on you.
Leave your virgin/whore dichotomy at home. Sorry to go all Women’s Studies on you, but again, PUAs have left me no choice. In the PUA imagination, women are sluts, prudes, gold-diggers, bitches, or simply too dumb to figure out that you’re trying to trick them into sleeping with you. Women are none of the above; they are complex human beings, just like you are. But if you walk around thinking of women at stereotypes, you’re going to be a stereotype yourself — the desperate guy who can’t get laid.
“No” doesn’t mean “back off and try again later.” It doesn’t mean “maybe.” It sure as hell doesn’t mean “yes.” I can’t believe I have to write this in 2013, but for fuck’s sake, people, no means no. No means go away. No often means, “I have already signaled to you in half a dozen ways that for whatever reason, I am not interested, so now I am being very clear and direct and I really hope you will go away.”
Rejection sucks. It also doesn’t kill you. Pickup artistry is attractive because it promises to protect you from rejection, in part because (allegedly) it makes you less likely to be rejected and in part because (in reality) it encourages you to view women who reject you as sluts and bitches and who wants to sleep with them anyway? But rejection is part of interacting with other humans, so you should be prepared to experience it. It hurts, but it isn’t fatal.
Rejection sucks, but being wanted is awesome. Sure, you could use PUA techniques to manipulate someone into having sex with you. Or, you could have sex with someone who’s there because she actually wants to be there. Guess which one doesn’t slowly eat away at your soul?
Stop imagining that you have to do all the “work” to get someone to have sex with you. That’s an incredibly retrograde idea, a view of the world in which women don’t seek and enjoy sex, which they most certainly do. Pursuing and successfully obtaining sex doesn’t make you a man, it makes you a person who is more focused on vaginas than on the people attached them. Unless you are a gynecologist, don’t be that guy.
Treat women as if they, like you, are individuals with thoughts and ideas, not video games that will reward you with golden pussy coins if you press the right combination of buttons at the right time.
Don’t use a goddamn list. Women are people, not one-size-fits-all robots, and a list will never do them justice. Not even this one.