Quick hit: picking women up without putting them down

In response to all the “pickup artist” and “seduction” talk that’s going on in the wake of that super rapey Kickstarter project, I’ve written a piece at Thought Catalog about how guys can talk to other human beings – which is what women are – without being a negging, sexist ass. My first piece of advice? Don’t listen to pickup artists. A few more pointers:

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.”

You can read the whole thing here, and if you have non-sexist tips on how to get fellow human beings to spend time with you, post them in comments!

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/crosbygal/ CrosbyGal

    First, I’d like to say “thanks” for the awesome site.

    re: tips for picking up women
    1) I think listening, like you mention, is a big thing. You brought it up a couple of times, but treating others how you’d like to be treated is a huge part of interpersonal relationships. Maybe you should make that bold, italics, and underlined? :D

    2) Accept yourself for who you are. Once you do that, it is easier to accept others. It seems like so much of this PUA business is about covering perceived/real flaws and insecurities. For instance, if I act like Casanova, then she won’t know or realize I’m limited in my sexual experience. Hey, maybe the things that you think matter doesn’t matter as much as much as you think!

    I think my relationships with people, romantic and non-romantic, improved dramatically once I realized and began to love who I am, flaws and all. You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. No ifs, ands, or buts. By turning that corner, I realized there is no perfect someone out there for me nor will I ever be someone’s perfect someone. Those little quirks can make you love someone even more.

    Sometimes, I feel for guys. Society can paint them into an emotional corner and label them as somehow less of a man for expressing emotions. Maybe if men were given more agency to express themselves the allure of PUA and their promises of masculine gold stars would diminish?

    3) Maybe someone out there can answer this question, but does the PUA culture have its roots in other things? It seems like maybe this is the representation of something deeper. I’m just going to throw this out there as an example, so hopefully someone will get what I’m saying. For instance, are the narrow gender narratives presented in fact-of-life texts are part of the foundation of this?

    I did a paper on this topic and without fail the texts (majority published after 2000) put great value on the penis and discussed it in great detail. They talked about nocturnal emissions, masturbation, etc. However, when female sex organs were discussed, it focused on (anticipated or actual) pregnancy. No discussion of female masturbation, sexual pleasure, sexual agency, consent, etc. So, basically these books were saying, “Isn’t the penis awesome?! Look at all the fun things you can do with it!…Ugh, the vagina? It is gross (see menstruation). It’s purpose is to make babies not provide pleasure for the woman, who we know only tolerates sex.” I was blown away by the content of these books. I reviewed some earlier texts, 1973 to 1998, and all those dynamics were present as well. I could go into the racist bits of those books, but I don’t have the time. Long story short, these texts depicted women in flat ways, much like PUA culture, so maybe the flat depictions of girls, then young women, are one of the factors that allow PUA to exist in the first place? Nothing happens in a void.

    4) Drop the “I’m a nice guy” bit. Maybe it is just my experience but when guys say that it is almost like they are trying to guilt you into being with them. Manipulation isn’t sexy. It is deceitful and mean and, very importantly, rarely results in anything positive. In fact, it can kill a budding relationship before you have a chance to enjoy it.

    A perfect example would be when I was telling a guy that I wasn’t interested in pursing a (romantic) relationship with him, but valued the things I learned in our friendship thus far (which was very true), his opening response was, “Well, that is what I get for being a nice guy!” He took me on a trip to guilt town. It felt so manipulative. It seemed more important that he possess me than be nice or see that I was happy. I’ve seen that dynamic in a lot of “nice guys.”

    I think that was the longest post ever.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sourpop/ sourpop

    I wish this would work but the people that rely on pick up artists like that loser are sexist/misogynistic. They are not really interested in being with a woman for the right reasons. They want to manipulate her so they feel powerful. Those guys are superficial & pathetic and I don’t believe they would listen & understand

    The guys have to understand first that women are people who owe them nothing & are deserving of equal treatment before the guys will be able to listen to any of the advice & understand it.

    The first advice itself is : don’t listen to pick up artist. If they understood that then thy wouldn’t be looking at pick up artists advice.
    I don’t believe in the super nice guy who is just sooo desperate to get girl to like him that he has to “resort” to a pick up artist and if he only knew the right way then he would follow it.

    I believe the guy’s mindset has to be changed first but I hope your advice works & I wish it all the luck.

  • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

    You realize that PUAs aren’t giving relationship advice. They’re teaching men how to get laid. I’m not putting down your advice. I’m just saying that you need to compare apples to apples.