“I was an extremely isolated youth who came from a broken home,” wrote Reddit user throwbabyaway89 on a much-discussed thread about the motivations of rapists last week. “My escape was the internet.” Specifically, pickup artist (PUA) websites. From the ages of 16 to 20, throwbabyaway89 wrote, he was heavily influenced by “PUA material” that was “very objectifying and sexually aggressive towards women.”
All this is background for the real point of his post: a confession that he committed sexual assault at age 17. He says he penetrated a girl he knew with his finger in the backseat of a car, despite her repeated objections. Years later, she allegedly told him “the experience had left her a bit shaken for a year or two.”
Throwbabyaway89 wishes to remain anonymous, and since the assault was never reported, it’s impossible to confirm the details. But his post does raise a question: do pickup artist websites, books, and TV shows convince boys and men to assault women?
Throwbabyaway89 told BuzzFeed Shift in an email that pickup artist ideas profoundly influenced him in his teens: “If a girl liked me, I felt great and was on cloud nine. If she didn’t I’d hit the books and learn more ‘techniques.’ […] There was always a way to act differently, there was always something subtle to say or do to bring them back in. If you couldn’t get them back then you did something wrong.” But ultimately, he didn’t blame the techniques for his offense, saying, “PUA may [have] helped me to get into that situation, but I made the choice to do what I did.”
Psychologist David Lisak, whose research has included many interviews with rapists, told BuzzFeed Shift that most sexual assault is actually committed by serial offenders — men who tend to be narcissistic, antisocial, and able to turn off their empathy for others. Websites or TV shows aren’t what cause these men to commit assault. However, the lessons of pickup artistry — like the idea that a woman’s “resistance” to sex is just something to be overcome — do create a certain culture that may allow rapists to thrive.
Messages from pickup artistry can seep into the mainstream, said Lisak, and these messages may give men already contemplating sexual assault “the sense that there’s nothing wrong with this, and if you’re a real man this is what you do.” By encouraging various forms of coercion, these messages can act “almost like camouflage,” making a rapist’s behavior seem normal — at least to him.
Writer Clarisse Thorn, who spent time with pickup artists for her book Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, concurs. She cautions that “millions of men look at PUA tactics and don’t rape people” and that pickup artists were far from the only people in society espousing problematic attitudes toward women. However, she added, some “tools” of pickup artistry are especially prone to misuse: she specifically cited “Last Minute Resistance” tactics designed to convince a woman to have sex after she’s already said no.
Her book offers a disturbing example. In a “field report” of a date posted to a PUA forum, one man wrote that he offered to drive a woman home and then took her to his house instead. He continued, “This chick did not verbally [acquiesce] in the least. I tried to take her pants off, ‘Take me home.’ I tried to kiss her, ‘Take me home.’ I’m rubbing her tits, ‘Take me home.’” Instead, they had sex — it’s not clear if she ever actually consented.
Thorn adds that individual PUA techniques aren’t really the biggest issue. Rather, the broader “attitudes about sex, relationships, and women within the PUA subculture” could encourage assault: “When relationships are framed as an adversarial conflict, and you become entirely focused on ‘winning’ (i.e. getting laid), then you may indeed do ‘whatever it takes’ to get what you want.”
Throwbabyaway89 says he no longer identifies with pickup artistry at all. And in a post on her blog, Thorn notes that encouraging ever-greater levels of coercion may not actually be good for business. “PUA companies lose clients because of stuff like this,” she writes. Pickup artists may have gained some mainstream acceptance, but if they advocate actions many people find morally repugnant, they may find themselves pushed back to the margins.
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If you ever wonder what the mindset of a “Pick up artist” really is watch Tom Cruise’s character in Magnolia. Women are objects to them, and no matter what they say their mantra is it is really “Respect the cock. And tame the cunt.” They are terrible people. Also all of those guys in the picture are so fucking punchable.
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These ‘SHIFT’ articles are walking a dangerously one-sided, cartoonized strawman path against men. Near-Racism, really. The end field report you cite represents uncool behavior. If she says to drive to her place, that’s what you do. Full-stop. However, LMR is a very real thing in many many otherwise average women, regardless of how happy-go-lucky things were, even right up to that second. It is an Instinctive, Evolutionary freak-out about a galaxy of consequences, history, power, etc.
People are all weird about many different things; intimacy being one of them. I experienced it once myself, big time. Great relationship. Affectionate, funny girl. Showtime? After the intro, but about 2 minutes before any serious musical collaboration, She FREAKS out about some flashback that reminds her of another guy/experience, jumps into her clothes, and drives off home. Oh, well. Weird. But no problem. She has to be who she is. Whatever. End of the week. Short apology and briefer explanation. Relationship resumes. *I have not read/watched even one passage that advocated Coercion as a remedy for LMR; even in “The Mystery Method”. There are a small contingent of bad guys everywhere, and they have been, and will always continue to use whatever tools they can find to achieve their own ends. Pickup is not for guys who hate women, or for turning Nos into Yeses. Especially if you take the self-improvement path, it’s even more about accepting personal-psych. and being cool with who people are and having the internal confidence and the external skills to move on to someone who’s a better match for you in a gentlemanly-fashion. A high-value PUA would just let the girl be, accept and move on without judgment or negativity, if she exhibited LMR too much. I am sad that the dark-side of the community exists.
Working out your old issues/hurts on any new person, save a therapist, is uncool and no way to evolve.
What I can see happening is some guy thinking that if he gropes or otherwise touches a woman DESPITE her saying no she will eventually be so overcome with desire that she will consent. Not so much. Guys, don’t just assume that because your pick up techniques are so suave that she must be playing hard to get or enjoys the illusion of being forced. Chances are that’s not the case, and do you really want to take the risk? (I’m saying this with the assumption that the average guy cares about whether or not the girl says yes.) If she says no, take me home, or pushes you away, that is her not giving consent. I’m gonna guess the only reason girls will end up going along with it is because they’re more concerned about what will happen if they say get to resistant. When in doubt, JUST ASK.
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The mindset of PUA is that women are objects and their pussy is yours for the taking—sometimes, you just have to trick her into it…and if all else fails, force your way in. It’s the same shit with the sexism we’re all supposed to think is cute and funny—“Go make me a sandwich” and the like. It’s getting worn out and anyone who doesn’t see it for what it is has to be nuts. Men still don’t see us as equals and they feel we’re defying our role when we say no.
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