?

Log in

No account? Create an account

A Frame-by-Frame Rebuttal to XKCD’s Pickup Artist Comic - Open Knowledge

Mar. 12th, 2012

07:20 pm - A Frame-by-Frame Rebuttal to XKCD’s Pickup Artist Comic

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Originally published at craschworks. You can comment here or there.

I agree with Tynan’s rebuttal to the recent XKCD cartoon that makes fun of the pickup artist community:

“…what about people who CAN’T talk like a normal human being? What happens to people who didn’t happen to develop normal social skills? Why is it so evil and manipulative for them to try to learn them? Things like bantering (a.k.a. negging), good storytelling, good body language and eye contact, are things “normal” people do well. They’re also, not coincidentally, what we teach students. You can’t just tell them to talk like a “fucking human being”, you have to show them what that means.”

I was intensely shy in high school and college.  So I undertook a deliberate program to improve my social skills and reduce my social anxiety.  I still have a long way to go (I haven’t been blues dancing in months because I’m embarassed by how crappy my dancing skills are), but I’m much better than I used to be.  Are there socially maladjusted PUA’s?  Sure.  But that’s to be expected, I think.  After all, if they weren’t socially maladjusted at some point, they wouldn’t have been interested in PUA to begin with.  

I think PUA has been a boon to women.  What does PUA teach?  An incomplete list would include:

What woman would _not_ want a man who successfully mastered those traits/skills?  Some PUA’s no doubt get some things wrong.  And some prominent PUA’s, such as Roissy, seem to be driven by anger and contempt for women.  But on the whole, PUA’s seek to remake themselves into men who women find irrestible.  And that is something that I think should be encouraged, not mocked. 

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:arpad
Date:March 13th, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
(Link)
There is a huge difference between communication and manipulation. And when you teach one you can't teach another no matter how you do it.

So I don't agree.

Edited at 2012-03-13 02:37 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:persona
Date:March 13th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)
(Link)
One is attempting to project the ideas in your mind into someone else's consciousness so that they will act in the way you want them to. The other is manipulation.

However, there -is- a big difference between negging and bantering, between a conversation with the goal of bedding and good conversation as its own reward.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:ernunnos
Date:March 13th, 2012 02:55 am (UTC)
(Link)
Bravo.

Women have whole magazines on how to dress, how to use makeup, and how to manipulate men. It's an industry. But when men try, it's an affront to all that is decent. "I thought he was this brilliant, sparkling conversationalist, and it turns out he had to take a class?! Ew!"

Also, I think it's funny that XKCD is written by a man. The female in this scenario isn't a female. It's a man, writing a female. It's funny because it doesn't happen that way, at least very often. If it were common, it wouldn't be noteworthy.
(Reply) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:istar
Date:March 13th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
(Link)
I sorta agree with tynan. Sarcastic social banter = hotness in the pants, and also an acquired skill. Also, it's impolite to respond to a casual neg with a huge ego-destroying revenge monologue, even though it seems funny in the comics.

I don't go out alone often, but i did on saturday, and yeah i got negged by some random dude who obviously wanted to meet me. Har har, hope that gave you a happy, random dude!

I do feel that all humans would benefit in their love lives by working on the things you listed.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:vyus
Date:March 13th, 2012 07:35 am (UTC)
(Link)
until women start to take responsibility for their actions instead of running off on remote control, learning how to operate the remote control is a perfectly honorable activity.
(Reply) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:daphnep
Date:March 13th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
''Negging'' = bantering...really?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:blorky
Date:March 13th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"How to be happy with yourself internally - How to be independent..."

Nope. PUA exists only when there's an external measure for success which is *entirely* dependent on other people.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:etherealclarity
Date:March 13th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I just posted a response to the article you link to, but I thought I'd repost it here:

Tynan,

I absolutely understand where you are coming from with this, and why you are trying to defend the PUA community.

Here's the problem, though.

Now, granted, I'm an outsider. I am not a part of the PUA community. I have certainly read quite a few articles written by men in the PUA community. Leaders. Or if not leaders necessarily, certainly members with quite a large following. Those articles can range from reasonable and helpful (similar to your response here) to downright disgusting and unquestionably misogynistic. And certainly, the latter (being more inflammatory) gets more attention.

But it doesn't get more attention simply because it is inflammatory. If that were true, a large portion of the comments on those sites would be argumentative. In fact, what I have seen is a huge outpouring of concurring with said nastiness. Most often, these are men who, because they have been repeatedly rejected, have turned to bitterness and misogyny. Sometimes these are men who started out misogynistic and used the contents of those articles to justify their misogyny. And sometimes these are men who didn't start out misogynistic, but read the articles and realized that PUA is not only a way to change their lives, but also a way to put some of the blame on their past failures with women on the women themselves by mentally devaluing them as a whole. (Let me clarify this for a moment: There is value in "devaluing" individual women, in the sense that many of these men focused on only one woman and put her on a pedestal, so to speak, and by devaluing individual women they are able to reduce the pain of rejection. This is healthy to some extent. But it becomes not healthy when they instead - as they often seem to do - devalue women in general, across the board.)

The more virulent members of the PUA community encourage this kind of thing. That's why 'negging' isn't called 'teasing'... it's called 'negging' because you are pointing out something negative. The PUAs whom I have read have described negging in a VERY different way than you describe here... as quite literally a way to take women down a notch and make her desperate to earn the man's approval.

And these more virulent members also seem to be both the most public ones - or at least the ones shouting the loudest. So, as with any kind of group, this is what any non member (such as Randall) is going to picture when they think of PUAs.

You may think that what you are doing here is 'setting people straight' about the PUA. Unfortunately, that's not really what's happening. You outright dismiss that the misogynistic vein of the PUA is anything more than what is present outside the PUA, and that is simply not true. And here's why: in normal society, extremely misogynistic people, particularly those who are PUBLIC and LOUD about their misogyny get shouted down, because people find misogyny so repulsive. Within the PUA community, however, they are, if not celebrated, they are acknowledged as having something valuable to say, or at the VERY least are somewhat ignored. Not shouted down. Not condemned. The PUA community is not policing its own. If your views of the PUA are truly the mainstream and majority opinion, why are you not addressing the loud vein of misogynists using your name to spout ugly rhetoric?

THAT needs to be your priority. Not defending the community against attacks from the outside. But addressing the real poison on the inside that is spurring those attacks in the first place. Or, barring that, not calling yourselves by the same name as those who have hijacked it. Creating a place for men who genuinely want to learn social skills, who want to grow and learn as people, and be more socially successful without thinking of women as objects to be won or used and then discarded. Because there definitely IS use for that. But you can't expect society at large to view the community that way with it in the state it is in today.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:lds
Date:March 13th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
So if I'm understanding correctly, the PUA community is exactly the same as the religiously feminist community, with all of the exact same failings?

I'd never heard of "PUA" before the XKCD comic and subsequent commentary, but it'll be interesting to observe, now, whether advice like yours can be applied consistently among group-minded males and females alike, or to see who continues to hold them to different standards.

Like, will you actually be this vocal to any religiously feminist organizations? I'll be watching the comments to crasch's journal entries to see!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:evelynne
Date:March 14th, 2012 12:52 am (UTC)
(Link)
Creating a place for men who genuinely want to learn social skills, who want to grow and learn as people, and be more socially successful without thinking of women as objects to be won or used and then discarded.

Oh my goodness, yes.

I was also ridiculously shy in high school, and actually learned how to be comfortable socially by "copying" other people's conversational tactics in college. So I am wholeheartedly in favor of breaking down social interaction in a scientific way and giving people ways to practice it and learn it, little by little. And I agree that PUA does some of those things. As Tynan himself pointed out,

Even outside of pickup, I've noticed that I'm just a better, more social, person. When my wing and I go through the mall to check our bags and eat lunch, we're chatting and joking around with all the employees, making them laugh and have a slightly better day.

Well, that's cool! Learn some social skills and make the whole world a little better. That is attractive. But earlier in the post he says,

But now, even after just eleven days, I realize I'm probably at a level where I could stop improving and have an above-average dating life. Say that I get a solid number every two days. That's fifteen attractive girls a month that will meet up with me. Even if I was really bad at following up and just played the numbers game... those are pretty good numbers.

Granted, he's talking about what he's learned from PUA and success rates are part of that, but ... EW. He's counting up girls like they're chickens. It doesn't even seem to matter what girls they are. They're "attractive". Not people he connected with over a common interest, not somebody who might be a good friend, just random interchangeable attractive girls.

And then there's this:

In reality, sometimes I run out of good things to say and I ask her about her dog. But that's okay, because two sentences later, I'm talking about something interesting again.

This just made me laugh. You let her contribute two sentences about her dog? So the only point of interacting is to impress her with your own scintillating topics and witticisms? What about HAVING A CONVERSATION!? You talk, then she talks! You ask each other questions and listen to the answers! Sometimes people think you're an amazing conversationalist when all you do is ask questions and listen!

This is why PUA skeeves me out. If men have trouble with social skills and want to do better -- even if their primary reason for doing it is to find women to date -- I think they'll be a much more well-rounded and attractive individual if they apply this learning process to EVERYONE, not just sufficiently attractive women, and cut it out with the bean-counting. Focus on getting to know people of all genders and ages, and being genuinely interested in them as individuals, and all sorts of good things will follow.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:evelynne
Date:March 14th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, and BTW, I know that in the next post he mentions that other people are grossed about by this numbers approached, and defends it by saying once he gets to know a girl better he DOES think of her as an individual, and he doesn't talk about her out of respect for her privacy. But the bean counting still squicks me. It reminds me of the time a guy was hitting on me at the grocery store and as soon as he found out I was married (I try to let them know early on) he made a face and basically said, "See ya."
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)