Atheists eat babies. Atheists worship the devil. Atheists are instruments of Satan. Freethinkers know that none of these statements are fair assumptions about who atheists are. In fact, freethinkers are the first to ward against pre-conceived notions that associate certain stigmas with certain labels. So it came as a surprise to me how negative the group’s reaction was to the confession I made while we were playing a game of “I used to be a…”
Well, I used to be a pickup artist or a PUA.
In the same way that atheists are reputed to be cannibals, the PUAs, I have learned, are reputed to be:
2) Misogynists who objectify women as sex objects
3) Pathetic people who had to resort to artificial tactics to compensate for their lack of natural social skills and personality.
4) Assholes who use any means necessary (including manipulation and deception) to get into women’s pants
5) Clueless opportunists who unwittingly contribute to reinforce oppressive systems
As far as I know, the list of stereotypes mentioned above would more accurately describe a drunk hipster, posing as a misunderstood genius and talking about his aesthetic perspective (which is “ahead of its time”) to get into the pants of a woman, than it would a PUA. I guess that’s the reason why I wrote this article – to provide a better understanding of what a PUA is. This is an attempt to break the “negativity” associated with the label – PUA. But if by the end of the article you’re still not convinced. Well, “Fuck you, I’m alpha! Yeah!” *high-fives enabling PUA wingman*
Let’s begin with the label: Pickup Artist.
I must admit that the label sucks. The first time I heard it, I imagined a douche driving down Quezon Avenue, picking up prostitutes and calling himself an artist because he knew where the fresh whores hung-out.
In any case, the notion that women can be “picked up” is viewed by many women to be demeaning. But just to clarify, the term “pick up women” to PUAs simply means to “meet women” (and sometimes, take them home the night you meet them – thus, the label).
The label is, primarily, a marketing ploy – a “product” label. A PUA is simply a man who used to be a socially inept nerd and was given training to become less socially inept. But the services offered by the pioneers of this product had to be creative in their marketing strategy.
Instead of using the label PUA they could have used the term “ex-socially inept nerd.” But what kind of moron would pay good money to be an “ex-socially inept nerd”? They had to create the notion that this product would enable one to “pick up women,” but what it provides, really, is the ability to “meet” women in different social situations. Again, it is marketing.
Is this type of marketing and unethical? It depends on your perspective with regard to advertising. Is the Axe commercial misleading and unethical in that it creates the false premise that by using Axe women will chase you around?
My first argument is that between Axe commercials and PUA material marketing, PUA material is actually more ethical in that it has a higher probability of delivering on its promise. You will meet women and be able to interact with them when you acquire the basic social skills that might qualify you as “non-creepy.”
Secondly, the methods by which PUA products are advertised have nothing to do with the ethical value of the product itself. If the problem is in its marketing, the problem is not with the PUA product, but with common advertising practices.
The term pickup artist was a re-packaging of what really is “social training” or “relationship/dating advice.” But in order to make people buy the product, the pioneers of PU had to market it as something else, thus, the politically incorrect label.
But why is it politically correct to begin with? Is it sexist? Is it anti-feminist? My argument is that the notion implied by pickup does not assume that only women are exclusively susceptible to being picked up. Men can also be “picked up.” There are magazines sold to women, which provide tips on how to seduce or “charm” a man. But I’m not going to complain that the notion that men can be seduced is demeaning, because it’s true. Men can be seduced – women too. Both men and women can be seduced, or in PUA terms, “picked up.”
On to the myths!
1) Myth #1: PUAs are douchebags
PUAs are not douchebags. To begin with, majority of men, if we are to generalize hastily, already are douchebags before they even became PUAs. Douchebagerry is not a trait acquired through the practice of PUA methods. The fact is that there are more douchebags in Cubao Ex than there are PUAs in the Philippines.
The most common trait associated with a douchebag is cockiness. The thing is, if ever a PUA behaves with cockiness, it isn’t done with sincerity. It is a performance in the same way that flirting or courting is a performance. He might say something like, “Stop checking me out, it’s making me uncomfortable.” But this statement is meant to be playful, not arrogant (unless that particular PUA was delusional or paranoid). It is what PUA David DeAngelo might call “cocky and funny.” It’s only douche-like when it’s not done correctly.
There are other attitudes that might associate PUAs with douchebags. Unfortunately, I can’t cover them all. For additional information with regard to PUAs not being douchebags, follow this link: What’s wrong with pickup artists?, http://taoofbachelorhood.com/2009/07/28/whats-wrong-with-pickup-artists/
2) Myth #2: PUAs are misogynists who objectify women as sex objects
The notion that PUAs are misogynist is just ridiculous. I mean, how can that be? He’s the one who spent countless hours finding ways to better relate with women. That means he likes women, not hates them. The very label that the PUA identifies with reveals his desire for women. PUAs are not misogynists.
For the most part, majority of the PUAs I’ve met used to be socially inept nerds (I was one too). We said things like, “The reason why your approach didn’t work was because the HB can sense your AA through your BL. Even though she did give you an AI and several IOIs, you failed to establish a FTC. Furthermore, your attempt to DHV via a Neg backfired and actually turned into a DLV because it made her see you as an AFC trying to be the AMOG. You should write an FR about this C&B.” See? Nerds.
These are nerds who simply realized that the women they were earnestly infatuated with ended up with jerks that didn’t treat these women well. These nerds wanted to treat women well but didn’t have the necessary, the most basic, social skills to meet them. So, they had to learn.
Another misconception is that PUAs objectify women; view women as machines that respond to “secret magic buttons” that super PUA mad scientists discovered after raping and dissecting women. I have no proof that the procedure described in the previous sentence didn’t happen, but if I were to speculate, I would say that there’s a higher probability that PUAs made simple observations and took notes, or simply subscribed to Cosmopolitan.
If women didn’t want their buttons to be pressed, maybe they shouldn’t be writing about where these buttons are. Women can’t publish all this information about what they like and what they do not like and not expect men to know about it. I mean, men can read too.
Some women think that PUAs are wrong because only women should be reading about relationships; and that only women should be learning about the opposite gender in the hundreds of magazines published every year devoted entirely for this purpose; and that only women should be able to use tools that enhance their attractiveness (makeup); and that only women should be allowed to use seduction.
Then these very same women complain about how men don’t understand them and don’t know what they want. PUAs are good to and good for women. They know what women want because they took the time to learn what women wanted (Cosmo! I wasn’t kidding when I said that).
One woman actually wrote an article about how she went from thinking that PUAs are assholes to being engaged to one. Her name is not Marguerite De Leon (Margie still thinks I’m an asshole). She’s a writer from London. You can read her article here: Do Women Like Pickup Artists?, http://www.articlesbase.com/relationships-articles/pua-lover-do-women-like-pick-up-artists-1356395.html
3) Myth #3: PUAs are pathetic people who had to resort to artificial tactics to compensate for their lack of natural social skills.
This one is not a myth. The truth is that I was (am?) a pathetic person who needed a book to learn basic social skills that I should have known in the first place had I not been so socially retarded.
Some men think that it’s pathetic that some boys need books to learn about women. I agree. In fact, I wish I had the social skills that these cool men had so I didn’t have to go through all the trouble that I did. Better yet, I wish I had a Cool-man friend who got dates for me.
Cool-man Friend to Girl: “Hi, are you doing anything Saturday night? There’s that new Scott Pilgrim movie everyone’s been talking about. I was thinking maybe you and DUSTIN could see it together.”
If friends like that existed there wouldn’t be any PUAs. As for me, I had to read books about girls and practice talking to girls in clubs and coffee shops.
But, honestly, I’d rather be the socially inept dude who made a decision to improve his social ineptness, than the dude who can’t get a date because he thinks that reading about girls is cheating.
4) Myth #4: PUAs are assholes who use any means necessary (including manipulation and deception) to get into women’s pants.
The most common misconception about PUAs is that they use deception. Well, some men use deception. Other men do not. The same is true for PUAs. Some PUAs are assholes. Some are not.
A lot of PUA literature doesn’t teach you a secret, sneaky, shadow pick-up Karate move that you can use to instantly get into a woman’s pants. It simply teaches you what girls don’t like.
Let’s say for example that there was a shy boy who had a big crush on a girl. After stalking her for a few months (because he couldn’t approach her), he developed a real adoration for her – not just her beauty, but her character as well.
Let’s say he walked up to her and told her, “Hey, I just thought I should tell you that you’re beautiful. Also, you’re very gentle with people. I like that about you. I know that because I’ve been watching you – for months. But this is the only time I gathered enough courage to actually talk to you. By the way, I’m John.”
Let us pretend that he was being honest. In fact, let us also say that he was compelled by a strong, sincere emotion to make such a grand gesture because he really, sincerely adored this girl.
I don’t think I have to tell you that this approach will not work. The girl will run. It is authentic, yes, but the girl will think this is creepy and she’ll call for help.
Now, let’s say that this same boy learned later that girls don’t like weird boys who stalk girls and he stopped doing it – is this deception?
Isn’t he simply learning not to be a creep?
To many cool guys, this is common sense. But to some people it is not, and I don’t think men who decide to learn ways to not be creepy should be discriminated against. The truth is PUAs don’t pretend to be anything. They’re just trying to evolve for the better.
Quoting Wayne Elise (CEO of Charisma Arts):
“[To be a PUA] also takes honesty. You probably didn’t expect to see that word in a book on picking up women. Surprise. A true pickup artist is not a player. While a player schemes and hides and sneaks around to get in an extra bit on his girlfriend or wife, the pick-up artist has neither the inkling nor time to do that. He seeks to be straight with the women who are involved with him. He has contempt for dishonesty and considers the player an unskilled opportunist.”
“How about those scripts and routines?” the reader might ask.
Well, they’re mostly “icebreakers.” Again, the client base of PUA literature is the nerd community. Nerds can’t simply walk up to a stranger and start a conversation (unless they’re also nerds of the same gender). These routines only help them get through those first 5 minutes. There’s only so much script a person can memorize. The scripts may create attraction for 5 minutes or so, but it is the person’s character that sustains this attraction for longer periods of time.
5) Myth #5: PUA assumptions reinforce oppressive systems
If you were a nerd who didn’t have the skills necessary to relate to women, what would you do?
A) I would question, challenge, and seek to change our hierarchical society that postulates alpha-male characteristics as the standard for what is attractive in men thereby discriminating against, and marginalizing, other masculine models.
B) I would question, challenge, and openly criticize our patriarchal society for accepting as a norm the notion that men carry the exclusive burden of having to actively pursue women.
C) I would subvert and deconstruct the very concept of masculinity in order to promote pluralism and negate any objective standard society might prescribe as the “ideal”.
D) I would try to figure out what women (in general) found attractive and aspire to live-up to that standard.
Come on. Seriously? Deconstruct masculinity? Challenge patriarchy? Dating can’t be that complicated. Doing these things in the right social circles might earn a date (from a really smart person), but, generally, what these discussions will earn from the average woman (or man) is a yawn… unless it’s a complicated pickup line:
“Hi. I don’t subscribe to traditional notions of gender politics, or the oppressive system of patriarchy that subordinates women… So I can’t and won’t pick you up. In order for this interaction to progress further, we must mutually agree to pursue each other, and mutually agree to allow said pursuit to occur in a negotiated space that is independent of the traditional gender roles prescribed by patriarchal societies.”
Or, a revision of a classic pickup line:
“Hey, can you buy me a drink?” (Instead of “Can I buy you a drink?” if you didn’t get it)
Back then, it was easier for me to learn the rules than to change the game. As a fitting analogy, let’s take capitalism for example. As a person with common sense, I recognize that I am operating within the existing framework of Capitalism. If I didn’t have money, I’m not going to go around appealing the injustice of capitalism or private property. I would simply get a job.
What I had then was a pragmatic problem, so what I needed at the time was a pragmatic solution.
Some people feel that my positive attitude with regard to the PUA perspective has consequences with my previously stated political ideology – anarchism. I have been told that I wasn’t an anarchist because, as someone who sees nothing wrong with PUA behavior, I continue to tolerate and recognize oppressive hierarchies that I should be rejecting if I were, truly, an anarchist.
Whoops! My bad.
I may have accidentally pretended to be an anarchist. But my understanding of anarchism is simply a rejection of state authority and religious dogma. Does anarchism really mean rejecting all hierarchies and behaving as if no hierarchies existed?
In that case, I’m probably not one because I have a day job and the only reason I can maintain a day job is by recognizing the hierarchy in my office and the authority of my boss. If my boss tells me to write a syllabus, I don’t tell her, “Fuck off, lady. I don’t recognize your authority.”
People behave contrary to what their ideology prescribes because that is what the real-life situations demand. And in the context of being a PUA, one has to recognize certain hierarchies because recognizing these hierarchies and using these labels (Alpha Male, Mother Hen) allow for a better understanding of the existing order. The labels are used for the purpose of practicality, not politics. If our behavior determined our ideology, wouldn’t we all be capitalists?
To be consistent with the analogy I proposed (“preconceived notions about atheists are just as ridiculous as preconceived notions about PUAs”), I’d like to bring up the issue of labels. Because of the negativity associated with atheism, a certain group of atheists actually proposed that the term “bright” be used as a euphemism for “atheist” to avoid the negative connotations attached to it. But changing the term doesn’t change the fact that atheists don’t believe in a god. So why change the term? If anything has to change, it’s not the term but how people perceive the term.
Many PUAs also want to rid themselves of the labels “pick-up artist” or “ex-pickup artist” because of the negative connotations associated with PUA culture. Some PUAs have proposed terms such as “naturals,” “players,” or whatever bullshit euphemism they could think of. In fact, the most recent dating products are inherently anti-PUA, although, it’s mostly the same material re-packaged in politically correct boxes. Well, I don’t need a euphemism. I was a pickup artist – a fucking PUA.
We (active or inactive PUAs) can change the terms but these facts remain:
We were a bunch of men who did not naturally develop the skills that provided other men the confidence and ability to just walk up and talk to women; we read a book (several, actually) or attended a seminar about women with the intention of finding out the characteristics these women liked so that we could develop such characteristics in ourselves; we went to clubs and other social places talking to as many women as we could in order to accustom ourselves to the idea that “women are nice people who will not embarrass you in public for fun because you wanted to meet her (most of the time, at least).” We wanted to improve ourselves and many of us left the community as better, improved, versions of our former nerdy selves.
I’m happy I was a PUA.
As a freethinker, I liked my life more after I became an atheist than I did before I was an atheist. I could say the same for being a PUA. I liked my life more after I became a PUA than I did before I was a PUA. The truth is I still exhibit many of the traits I learned from my PUA days (I still maintain a delusional sense of coolness, I’m not needy or jealous, I slap my bitch from time to time just to keep her in line and show her who’s boss, I make sure that people know that I’m joking when I make incredibly offensive statements like the phrase before this one, etc.).
Now, if PUAs are really manipulative misogynists who abuse and objectify women, then my girlfriend probably has the worst case of Stockholm’s syndrome since she seems to enjoy my supposed misogyny, abuse, and objectification.
The myths about the PUA are only as valid as those about atheists. The truth is that PUAs are regular people. They don’t hate women and they don’t eat babies (unless you’re using the word “babies” as a politically incorrect and possibly anti-feminist euphemism for breasts).