Monday, July 8, 2013

Chloe Angyal's Not-So-Helpful Critique of PUA

I'm not an expert at dating.  Though I suppose like Earl Weaver's failed baseball playing career, that doesn't mean I can't deliver some insights.  Especially have the background that I have.

I recently read a blog post on thoughcatalog by a woman named Chloe Angyal on the topic of picking up women.  I think she's has some points, but more or less misses a lot in her critique of Pick Up Artist Ken Hoinsky (and by extension the pickup community in general).

I'm going to quote the relevant parts and give my response.

"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)."

Well, yes.  PUAs are usually in it for the money.  And like most "self-help" books and publications (and college essays I might add) they're usually filled with mindless bullshit.  I think we can agree on that.

"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."

I think there are two separate issues here.  One, is the topic of "negging".  Like going up to a gorgeous woman who says she models for a living and asking her if she models gloves or Halloween masks.  It's a backhanded compliment designed to make the other person think you're not trying to kiss their ass.  From what I've seen this doesn't really work unless a) the person thinks you're trying to be funny and insults you right back or b) they have really low self esteem and are susceptible to those kinds of tactics.

The second part, I think is totally wrong.  For shy, unsuccessful, and/or inexperienced men (like myself) talking to a girl like you would anyone else, and "being yourself" is going to get you nowhere.  Well, it might get you some acquaintances, but you won't get many (if any) dates.  If it did, this blog wouldn't exist.

"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."

Actually, I've mostly seen women describe themselves that way, especially on online forums.  Women often assert that they can tell if a guy is "desperate" or "clingy" or "awkward and inexperienced".  Like almost a sixth sense.

Women do feel nervous, however it's usually around men they are attracted to, not around men they aren't.  I have personally never interacted with a woman and got the impression she was nervous.  Disinterested?  Yes.  Nervous?  Never.  I have seen women interact with other men and knew immediately that they were nervous or shy.  So I do know the difference.

"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."

Well, no one should make anything a top priority.  You don't want to force things since they rarely end up well that way.  You want to be patient and relaxed in pretty much every facet of life.

But, let's be honest, women are "pleasantly surprised" when a man who they think is interested in only sex turns out to want something more.  That guy with charisma and charm, and good looks, cool hobbies (and sometimes a good job though I think that's not as important nowadays) who can get any girl to sleep with him?  That's the guy you want to be seeking something more.  Not the shy inexperienced loser who'd marry the first girl who would agree to go on a date with him.

I'm not saying women are shallow, since I'm sure men have equal proclivities towards shallowness.  However, no one wants something they can easily obtain, they want something a little more challenging.

"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."

I've seen this before, and it's total bullshit.  The problem with the "friend zone" isn't that you're forced into being friends with a girl, it's that someone you have a romantic or sexual feeling towards does not want the same and likely never will.  Sometimes that person offers genuine friendship, not as a consolation prize, but out of a genuine desire to be friends.  Sometimes, however, the "friendship" is really one party using the other for favors, gifts, or a shoulder to cry on with no intention on reciprocating.  In other words, you don't want to date Frank, but you know he really likes you and would do anything for you so you ask him to help you move furniture, but when he needs you to watch his cat one night you're nowhere to be found (intentionally I might add).

People don't like having their feelings manipulated and they don't usually like spending time with someone they like romantically who doesn't share those feelings.  It's like being on a diet on going to a cake shop.

Now, maybe you've met some men that think being friends with women is the worst thing ever.  But I haven't.  Most men I know have female friends.  I have female friends.  Some good friends, some minor friends.  One thing all of my female friends have in common though is that I'm not interested in them romantically or sexually.  If I were, I wouldn't be friends with them.  It would be too difficult.  That's the essence of the friend zone.  As far as I'm aware.

"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."
 I don't know.  I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.  I think there is something to the alpha vs beta vs omega stuff, though I think much of the literature surrounding it is permeated by people trying to make a quick buck (like PUAs) rather than people trying to do real research on the matter.

"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."

I think the "desperate guy who can't get laid" is already known and stereotyped.

"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."

I disagree.  In part.

Pickup artistry exists primarily because there is a market for it.  I'm sure it would take an entire book or series of them to figure out exactly why, but it's a fact that there's a market for PUAs that didn't exist before.

From what I can tell, PUAs are attractive to primarily two types of men: a) the men who want to have sex with many different types of physically attractive women and b) shy, inexperienced, late bloomers.

Type a) men are usually older (say late 30s or 40s) who either never married or married the first woman they could get to say yes.  As a result they feel resentment that they never got to experience the so called "frat boy" lifestyle in which you could have sex with lots of women and have an existing and fulfilling sex life (according to them).

Type b) men are usually post college aged men (say age 22 or so) who have reached an age when most of their peers have girlfriends or marriages and they still have never kissed or had sex or really dated.  Being a male virgin (let alone a guy who's never kissed a girl) is a shameful thing to admit.  And honestly, not many women are interested in dating a guy who is inexperienced.  When I look on Okcupid profiles or online message boards, or even among women I know, I have rarely ever heard a woman say she would be ok dating a guy who had never seriously dated before.  This puts late bloomers in a bit of a bind.

Let me be clear: PUA is not in any way the answer to the problems that these types of guys have.  However, it is an answer, and one of the few out there, especially for inexperienced guys.  Inexperienced guys got to the place they are precisely because they are "themselves" and "talk to women like anyone else". Along comes PUA saying "here's the solution" and like bloodletting in the 18th century, people eat it up.

It's easy to say "blood letting is stupid and doesn't work", but it's not helpful to someone who has no idea of any other options, because those options don't exist yet.

So yeah, PUA is not constructive.  But neither are Disney movie imperatives to "be yourself".

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