There have been some comments recently that I’ve been pretty hard on the pick up community in the last month or two. And that’s true. Every once in a while I need to be reminded to show the PUA’s a little love because obviously I wouldn’t be here or writing this if it weren’t for them.

And lo and behold, an article about a research study on PUA techniques came out this morning. And by “research study,” I mean a presumptuous piece of radical feminist garbage. Either way, it’s given me a perfect opportunity to stand up for all of my fuzzy-hatted, time-constrained brethren. Fellas, this next club soda with lime is for you.

The article, titled “How Sexists Find Love,” is based on some new social psychology research done on PUA tactics and the receptiveness of various women. The studies, done at the University of Kansas, actually have intriguing results. But the language in which the results are described, as well as the language used in the article, is truly irritating and a perfect example of how otherwise well-intentioned feminists taint their entire cause by injecting ideology into science.

Money quote:

“Women who are charmed by the tactics found in manuals like Neil Strauss’ “The Game” are generally either interested in casual sex — or they’re sexist. It turns out the same is also true of the men who use these strategies. For the most part, this means that pickup artist techniques work to pair up like-minds, which seems harmless enough, but it also comes with some worrisome implications…

The results make perfect sense: Women who want a no-strings hookup are attracted to men who clearly broadcast their interest in sex, and ladies who subscribe to sexual stereotypes about their own gender will take a liking to aggressively dominant men. Conversely, men who simply want to get laid are more likely to turn to the sort of “tricks” found in “The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into Bed,” and dudes who think of women as sexual gatekeepers or trophies are more likely to treat them as such.

OK, I actually agree that the intentions that you approach women with will determine which kind of women you end up meeting. In fact, I spend an entire chapter in my book talking about this “assortment” effect. I call it Demographics. Basically, if you think all women are cheating sluts, then you will sub-consciously screen for cheating sluts. If you think they’re all angels that need to be worshiped, you will unconsciously screen for women who appear to be angels and need to be worshiped.

But PUA theory is neutral. The study makes the assumption that PUA tactics are inherently sexist and interested in casual sex. You could “neg” a girl in a club or in a marriage, it can theoretically be equally as effective in either situation. You could date a girl to get to know her well and enter a relationship with her. Or you could do it to try and sleep with her. The tactic is neutral. The intention is the determinant variable. This ignorance shows that the researchers lack a fundamental understanding of the very thing they’re studying… which honestly doesn’t bode well for the rest of the study.

And predictably, the wheels soon come off. Here’s where the article goes from annoying to infuriating:

What’s especially interesting about this study is that it not only confirms that there are sexist ideas behind pickup artist strategies — as has often been the criticism — but it also shows that sexist women are complicit. “Women are not just sexual gatekeepers,” he says. “It’s not like they’re helpless, non-participants in this interaction. Instead, sexist women are essentially choosing sexist men.” This is what’s called “assortment mating” in social psychology – basically, people tend to unconsciously filter out dissimilar individuals. “Even though they don’t know that they’re using these strategies for these reasons and even though these strategies aren’t used because you’re inherently trying to show your sexist attitudes, what it essentially does is help sexist people find each other,” he says.

What are these sexist ideas she’s speaking of? That men are “dominant and aggressive” and that women are “sexual gatekeepers?” Sorry, that’s not sexism, that’s simply accepting traditional gender roles — gender roles which there is plenty of evidence suggesting contain at least some sort of biological basis. More feminine women prefer more masculine men and vice-versa. What the hell is sexist about that?

Yes, I like to have casual sex. Yes, I prefer to be dominant and aggressive. Yes, I prefer women who are a bit coy and submissive. Does this make me a sexist? Since when does preferring girlie-girls make me a sexist?

This is what pisses me off about certain feminism, anyone who doesn’t buy into their ideology of gender neutrality is immediately labeled a sexist and a misogynist. It’s the same ideological stunt right-wingers in the US pull when they say that anyone who doesn’t support the wars in the Middle East are terrorists. It’s a bunch of bigots crying bigotry.

And then the researcher has the gall to point out a “link between sexist beliefs and acceptance of date rape and sexual coercion,” which is totally unnecessary and I suppose is intended to insinuate that PUA’s are somehow likely to be rapists. That’s like me conducting an entire study claiming that all Jews are greedy, and then wrapping up the study by mentioning, “Oh, and by the way, drug dealers are greedy as well.” It’s amazing that this shit actually gets published and taken seriously.

But wait, I’m not done yet. Here’s the kicker, the research was based on women self-reporting. And anyone who’s hit on half a woman before, much less slept with a dozen, knows what women say they respond to sexually and what they actually respond to sexually are often miles apart. In fact, there have actually been studies done showing that women are often completely unaware of when they’re turned on by a man and when they’re not.

There’s a correlation doesn’t equal causation fallacy adrift here. Do “sexist” women respond well to game tactics? Or could it just be that women who are comfortable in a traditionally feminine role see no reason to hide their preference for dominant men? Do only women interested in casual sex respond well to “game” tactics? Or could it just be that women who are comfortable with their sexuality are more candid about what turns them on? Because I can tell you, I’ve successfully used “game” to seduce plenty of women who weren’t particularly submissive or feminine, and plenty of women who weren’t that interested in casual sex either. And I know I’m not the only one. Not by a long shot.

There’s no useful conclusion that can be drawn from this data. All it shows is which male behavior women perceive themselves to be attracted to (or wish they were attracted to), which honestly, you could figure out by subscribing to Cosmo. It has no verifiable proof on which male behaviors they actually ARE attracted to. It’s reading garbage like this that makes me really, really want to go get a PhD at times.

Are there sexist PUA’s? Of course there are. But there are sexist non-PUA’s as well. PUA may attract more than it’s fair share. But I don’t think sexist attitudes are implicit in (most) PUA advice. I think many men teach or interpret the advice in sexist ways. Which is not surprising, after all… it’s a thinly-veiled support group for people with a lot of anger and emotional baggage towards the opposite sex. You know, kind of like feminism.

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74 Responses to In Defense of The Pick Up Artists

  1. Betrand says:

    I felt obligated as a modern man to familiarize myself with feminism. Now after having read several books and articles on the subject, some academic, I can safely say that the whole thing is BS.

  2. Fk says:

    Mark, you are f–ing killing it lately

  3. hilanoga says:

    I can’t find a link to the actual study, so I will answer as well as I can without it:
    – Accepting gender roles *is* sexism. According to wikipedia:
    a sexist attitude is one which suggests human beings can be understood or judged on the basis of the essential characteristics of the group to which an individual belongs.
    You are arguing semantics.

    This is the essence of the problem – if you read a study that says 80% of women prefer a dominant man, and therefor decided that all women should be treated as submissive bunch, it will probably work for you as a PUA (80% is a lot), but you shouldn’t be surprised that the remaining 20% are getting upset because you dismiss their preference and life experiences as irrelevant and eccentric.
    The problem with PUA attitude is that you decided that all women operate in a certain way, and refuse to accept that there may be a bit more variety in the female population than you care to admit*.

    As far as I’m concerned, that’s the main thing that is missing from your material (I put you and PUAs in the same bag here because you are similar in that respect) – the acknowledgement that what you sell is just *one* model, that there may be others, and that whatever assumption you make on the entire population of women based on research, personal experience or popular belief should be taken with a grain of salt and applied to individual women with discretion.

    – PUA and rape:
    And then the researcher has the gall to point out a “link between sexist beliefs and acceptance of date rape and sexual coercion,” which is totally unnecessary and I suppose is intended to insinuate that PUA’s are somehow likely to be rapists.
    Um. Actually, a lot of the PUA material that I’ve read clearly says that you should ignore a girl’s “no” since she is probably just playing games. How is that not promoting rape?

    About the rest – I agree that PUA methods work (some more than others), I agree that there are a lot of angry feminists out there (hell, I’ve become a feminist because I was an angry woman**), and a lot of sexist PUAs.
    I think that if we spent some time trying to understand each other’s side instead of exchanging blows all the time, we would all benefit from it.

    * Note that I wasn’t saying we are equal, since I honestly don’t know and I don’t think it matters one way or the other, so don’t build me this straw man in the response, please.
    ** We are all AngryWomen^TM, and we shoot our raging opinions at Male Chauvinist Pigs.
    LOL sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

    • Matt C says:

      So it is sexist to believe that women operate differently from men in general?

    • Mark says:

      Semantics indeed hilanoga. From the dictionary:

      Noun: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

      It’s a pretty strong word to just throw around like that.

      As for ignoring “no,” unfortunately many, many women say “no” when they don’t mean it. It’s something you must judge by the situation. Although, I believe all PUA material is clear: if she ever physically resists you, then you stop and back off. I’ll put it this way. If a guy is going to rape, he’s going to rape. He doesn’t need to be told how to do it.

      The cavalier way some feminists like this one throw around words like “Sexist” and “Rape” unfortunately discredits or tarnishes a lot of legitimate work the rest of the movement does. For me at least.

      • Matt C says:

        What is this “legitimate work” you speak of?

        • Mark says:

          It’s dwindled in the past few decades, but reproductive rights, sex education, helping battered women/rape victims and the like.

          My personal opinion is that 98% of feminism’s political goals have been achieved in the West (if not over-achieved) and so its attention should be directed to countries where there are legitimate sexism issues, i.e., Africa or the Middle East.

      • hilanoga says:

        Claiming that all women behave in X way and want Y things is a pretty annoying and harmful behavior. It deserves strong words.

        For example, claims that all men don’t want to have children or are not good fathers annoy the hell out of MRA guys, and for a good reason. It may be that on average, men are less interested in having a family and are more interested in their career. But when you try to decide which parent gets custody in the divorce, this kind of belief can have a major effect of the decision and, as a result on the individual’s life. It’s not always for a good reason – there are many great fathers out there, and many horrible mothers as well.
        Sexism sucks both ways.

        “I believe all PUA material is clear” – it is not, I can provide examples. And there is a lot to say about requiring that a women will physically resists a man for it to count as a no. In a nutshell – not all women are able to do that, and there is no reason to require that since we are all perfectly capable of verbal communication.
        The question “why did you not physically resist” is often used as rape apologetic. In one case it was even used to “prove” that a woman who was raped while a gun was pointed to her head wanted it because she didn’t physically resist her attacker (from a Hebrew book about rape trials that I have).

        About “no” doesn’t always mean no!
        Lets say, for the sake of the argument, that out of 100 women – 99 say “no” just as a kind of game, and will physically stop you when they are not interested. One, however, for whatever reason, will mumble no and stay frozen when you make further progress.
        Does it make sense to you that men should always act aggressive, and take the chance that the girl they are with will not be that last one?

        And this is another thing you seem not to notice –
        The men that are naturally attracted to the PUA world are mostly not there because they were the greatest communicators to begin with! They are probably there because they have some social problems, they are probably not very good at reading social cues, they probably have some issues with women in general.
        And when it comes to *approaching* women – you are very much aware of that. You give them tools that help them determine whether a woman is interested in them or not according to her body language, you give them tools to arouse interest, you teach them what is the proper and improper behavior in different social interactions, you teach them to communicate.
        But when it comes to sex, they are suddenly those magnificent communicators? They suddenly read the girl perfectly? Know when the “no” really means no! and when it is a game? They are suddenly so good at identifying a girl who is in distress? They suddenly know when the game stops being a game, after they’ve been told over and over again that girls play games all the time? Where do you give men these tools?
        You don’t, and accidents happen.

        I know they happen, because these girls come to me (the collective feminist in the crisis shelter, that is) and tell me about it.

        Now, there’s a lot of educational work that needs to be done here – everyone needs to learn how to communicate more clearly what they want, and especially – what they don’t want. As a feminist, I see it as my job to talk to women about consent, boundaries and communication, and it seems to me like the PUA community is a good place to do that with men. You already provide a sort of sex ed. 101 material. All you need to do is throw in some words about safety and consent.

        • Traindom says:

          I believe Mark has given us direction amidst sexual tension. One thing that comes to mind is setting boundaries, like having the girl explicitly let him know when she’s uncomfortable at times.

        • Mark says:

          We’re just arguing past each other hila.

          Yes, I agree that PUA’s often make bad generalizations about all women. I’ve made a number of posts about these generalizations (have another one coming up actually). But here we have feminists making fucked up generalizations about PUA’s. It’s just as bad in my opinion, just going the other way.

          As for the whole “No means no” thing, I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole for a number of reasons. I just brought it up to point out that PUA Theory obviously spends a lot of time thinking about consent, in fact, it focuses an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to get it (LMR tactics, reframes, kino escalation ladders, isolation tactics, etc.).

          Obviously there are individuals who are going to be less sensitive to the consent issue. But my argument would bet that they were going to be insensitive to consent anyway, PUA tactic or not.

          • hilanoga says:

            Generalizations – as far as I’m concerned, we criticize the PUA theory, not the people. It’s not the same.

            When you focus so much on getting consent, it’s a good idea to spend some time investigating other aspects of it as well. For balance, you know.

            And I guess we’ll just agree to disagree on that last one, since I don’t want to open the rape culture subject…

          • Mark says:

            Well, I sympathize with your criticisms of the PUA theory, and yes PUA theory leaves a lot to be desired (empathy the main thing for me). But I don’t think you can argue that PUA theory promotes guys to ignore consent. If anything, quite the opposite. If you want to argue that PUA promotes men to be cold and selfish and to objectify women, then yeah I’d agree with you. But rapists? Absolutely not. And there’s a big difference there.

            I mean, PUA’s have a very popular saying called “make the ho’ say no,” which is translated literally as, “be aggressive until she tells you not to be, then stop.”

            Or another one: “one step back, two steps forward,” as a way to acknowledge any objections a woman has and to make sure she’s on the same page with you.

            Or “the game is played in comfort” which is the idea that ultimately it’s impossible to sleep with a woman until she feels a certain level of security around you.

            Now, a lot of this stuff is misogynistic in other ways. But promote rape? Absolutely not. If anything it’s teaching guys to become very aware of consent.

            I agree with Fluffly, my guess is that the average guy off the street is going to be far less aware and less concerned with consent than a PUA. They spend a lot of time talking about it and finding ways to get it.

            And yes, if you start in on rape culture you’ll be ripped to shreds here, by myself included.

          • hilanoga says:

            As I said before – the local community has failed tragically in showing such awareness.

            I would love it if you proved me wrong by directing me to relevant writing.

        • Fluffy McGee says:

          This issue goes far beyond the extreme examples you’ve provided hil.

          Keep in mind that you’re focusing the issue here on women’s needs. Playing the victim game and turning all men into predators, when in fact many guys think a lot about these very issues.

          In fact, it’s something most of us take so seriously that we actually will stop and have a serious conversation about consent if the girl freezes up and gets weirded out. This is something Mark has talked about, and it’s something most PUAs teach/write about quite a bit.

          The PUA community doesn’t need to be demonized for these types of concerns, it’s the average Joe who has never stepped foot in the community that lacks awareness of these issues, so I would argue that this “PU movement = rape” is a load of feminist crap, and nothing more. They should be thanking us for bringing awareness to these issues.

          • hilanoga says:

            I’m not turning all men into predators.
            I’m turning all people into a bunch of idiots that need a lesson or two in sexual communication 😉

            If you could point me to such PUA writing (not Mark’s, mind you, I’ve read most of his material), I’ll be grateful.

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            “I just brought it up to point out that PUA Theory obviously spends a lot of time thinking about consent, in fact, it focuses an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to get it (LMR tactics, reframes, kino escalation ladders, isolation tactics, etc.).”

            Mark already mentioned these writings in a post above, which were developed by PUAs prior to his time. I’m sure he has a few of his own too which you already know about.

            As for my own (non) technique, I will tell a girl straight up that she doesn’t have to have sex with me if she isn’t comfortable with it. And I keep that promise if they tell me they don’t want to. How much more straight forward can consent get than that?

          • hilanoga says:

            I meant specific authors/books/sites. Stuff that I can actually read and refer back to 🙂

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            Start with the basics:

            The Game by Neil Strauss

            The Mystery Method by Eric Von Tophat

    • Fluffy McGee says:

      “The problem with PUA attitude is that you decided that all women operate in a certain way, and refuse to accept that there may be a bit more variety in the female population than you care to admit*.”

      I beg to differ, real pick-up is all about calibration sometimes, which means adapting your approach to the individual woman (aka they are all different.). Mark talks about this a lot hil ~ and so do other PUAs.

      All branches of feminism don’t have to be defended by you, simply because you identify yourself as a feminist. Kind of like how most PUAs don’t support all branches of pick-up.

      • Mark says:


        “The only rule is calibration. Everything else is a recommendation,” is my singular favorite piece of advice.

      • hilanoga says:

        I don’t defend all branches of feminism. I spend a good portion of my voluntary work time fighting stupid militant women who do more harm than good.

        In this case, I think there is a real problem and I think that you are the people with the power to solve it – as a community, you are a support group, communication school and sex ed. 101 all in one for so many men.

        • Denis says:

          Read Mark’s material. His own stuff is not sexist. It’s actually post-PUA. It’s more about how to really be a better person in all aspects, rather than just how to “score” like many other stuff out there. Of course, the focus is still on this sexual stuff, it’s Pickup after all. But Mark kinda opposes the mainstream PUA teachings.
          And by attacking ALL of PUA out there, you attack this little community too. Thus working against it’s growth and against curing more of the PUA scene. You, my dear, should instead give him a medal “Feminist approved” or something.

          • hilanoga says:

            I have read Mark’s material, book and all, and while I think it is indeed much much better than your average PUA crap (and have said so on many occasions), there are still some things that make me uncomfortable about it.

          • Traindom says:

            I don’t mean to open a Pandora’s Box here, but just out of curiosity, what were some of the things you were uncomfortable with (in addition to the consent issues)?

          • Mark says:

            I’m all ears.

          • hilanoga says:

            Ok, this is a compilation of notes I took when I read Mark’s book*. Not all of this is “feminist” critique, and I don’t think all the points are equally important. Also – I haven’t thought about all of this through (which is why I haven’t raised most of the issues here), so take it with a grain of salt. Mark – if I’m inaccurate at times, please correct me – leafing through a Kindle book is a pain.

            Mark bases his book on a certain model of relationships – on one end of the behavioral spectrum, he puts needy behavior, which indicates that you have low social status, and on the other end of the spectrum, he puts vulnerable behavior which demonstrates high social status (I’m doing it injustice here, go read the book). Now, I think that this model is pretty good at explaining some kinds of social situations and preferences, and it certainly serves well the purpose of the book and supports Mark’s advice well.
            However, I think that if you try use this model to explain all relationship dynamics, which I saw Mark do on occasions here in the blog and in the book, you will find the model a bit simplistic and the result lacking depth. Now, I don’t claim that this model is wrong. I believe it does good job in explaining many situations. I just think that it could be expanded in a way that would add value to the theory beyond the traditional pick up context.

            I realize I may be biased here because of my involvement with these issues, but I think that the subjects of street harassment, what Mark calls “creepiness” and safety/consent deserve a more serious treatment than they are given in the book. Specifically, I think that it would be a good idea to provide some “red lines” that one should not cross, and some tools that would let you know if you are heading in the wrong direction with a woman.
            This is important, in my opinion, because we (Hollaback Israel) often get complaints on aspiring PUAs doing all sorts of unacceptable things like petting a girl’s tummy/face while approaching her on the street (second one happen to me personally, WTF?!), and we have our infamous rape story. Also, Mark – had your friend shouted to passing girls “may I pee in your butt?” in Tel-Aviv 2011, we would probably be flooded with complaints.
            I think that providing this advice would serve several purposes. First, it would really help all those guys who are really not that good with social rules and norms and do all these mistakes because they honestly don’t have a clue. I am also a social retard, and I can assure you that for people like myself, this kind of advice is painfully needed and is very much appreciated. From a feminist POV, you would help a lot of women feel much safer, and if these guidelines will be accepted as social norms, you would get the added bonus that the women you approach will probably be a lot less suspicious and hostile – for free!

            Many parts of Mark’s advice is directed for people who more-or-less conform to traditional gender roles. Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing, nor do I expect Mark to teach material he doesn’t believe in or feels comfortable with, but I do think that it should be mentioned somewhere that there are other ways to go about this subject.

            Yes, Mark, I know – it’s not exactly how you see things (and I must say the book is much better than the blog in that respect). But every time I read you quote that research I wanted to burn my Kindle turned on with your book in it. My God, how many times can that fucking idea be shoved down one’s throat?! Do you have any idea how long it took me to stop feeling like a pair of boobs on a stick? Jesus.
            Good, I’m glad we talked about it.

            Mark sometimes portrays women as irrational beings. Now, my reason is traditionally “manly”, so I can relate to that feeling. But during the last year, thanks to my voluntary work, I’ve discovered that there is a different way to think about things – way that is less logical and goal oriented. A way that values communication, feelings and subjective narratives over absolute truths. While I often find it hard to relate to this way of thinking and I don’t always feel comfortable in such conversations, I did lean to appreciate them.
            Mark, we are not irrational. Sometimes you just don’t understand our reason – it’s not the same thing.

            And after all this, I must add some good points for balance:
            – I think that most of the material in the book is good, solid and sane advice.
            – I love the fact that the focus of this book is self-improvement and not cheap tricks. This is the way to go about things.
            – Mark’s usage of the concept of vulnerability is brilliant. I think he found a loop hole in the traditional concept of masculinity, effectively allowing men to – OMG – have feelings, while remaining “real men”
            – I claim that about 90% of the material in this book is perfectly valid as dating advice for women as well
            – Some chapters in the book were quite moving, and I smiled all the way through while reading them
            – Unconditionality “When in doubt – check your intentions” – That.

            Overall I think Mark’s advice is good. This is the only reason I spend my time reading it and criticizing it.

            That’s all for today. It’s past 2 AM here 😉

            * Yes, I always do that when I read, don’t give me that look. You are still giving me the look. I can see that.

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            Getting all pissed off about reality doesn’t change reality hil ~

            “Mark sometimes portrays women as irrational beings” – sometimes they are, just like men.

            “I’M SICK AND TIRED OF HEARING HOW THE ONLY ATTRACTIVE THING ABOUT WOMEN IS OUR GODDAMNED LOOKS!” – it’s the first thing people use to make judgements of others, about men and women. There will always be shallow people in society.

            “a feminist POV” – where can I DL?

            “I think that the subjects of street harassment, what Mark calls “creepiness” and safety/consent deserve a more serious treatment” – when women start approaching men and initiating sexual encounters so we don’t have to do it, this will change.

          • hilanoga says:

            “Getting all pissed off about reality doesn’t change reality hil”
            Social criticism 101 – Which parts of reality you focus on is always an ideological choice.
            The reality is that when you grow old your dick will go all soggy, and morning hard-ons will be a long lost dream (ask my Mom, she will tell you all about it), while the women around you will become more sexual than ever before.
            Yet Mark doesn’t focus on that little fact in the book because it doesn’t serve his purpose. Highlighting certain facts is a choice, and it always have a meaning.

            “sometimes they are”
            And sometimes they aren’t, and portraying them that way in these cases, does them injustice.

            “it’s the first thing people use to make judgements of others, about men and women. There will always be shallow people in society.”
            This is not how it used in the book or in the site.

            “when women start approaching men and initiating sexual encounters so we don’t have to do it, this will change.”
            This is just silly. I’m sorry.
            Basically what you are saying is that as long as men approach and initiate sexual encounters, there will be street harassment and consent issues, and there isn’t even a point in attempting to change that.
            This is not a very nice thing to say about men.

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            Take a deep breath and ask yourself this hil:

            “What did I achieve by getting all pissed off about this?”

            Am I your enemy here hil? It sounds to me like ignorance the enemy, and you’re not alone in the fight against it.

          • hilanoga says:

            Ok, I get it. You are just patronizing me. I am not playing that game.

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            Nope, that was me being serious. But whatever, you obviously don’t want to reason about these issues.

            Feminists getting so stereotypically pissed off about every little thing they think only affects them is half the reason most men don’t take them seriously.

            None of us can voice an opinion on the subject at hand without being flamed into a dickless misogynist turd, so how do you expect us feel?

  4. Fluffy McGee says:

    Nice to see an article with some real punch to it =]

    “Which is not surprising, after all… it’s a thinly-veiled support group for people with a lot of anger and emotional baggage towards the opposite sex. You know, kind of like feminism.”

    +1 Fluffy likes this.

  5. Paul says:

    Being part of the PUA culture for 8 years, dissociating from it, and now being a feminist, I think I am in a unique position in comparison to both PUA’s and feminists. Unique, especially because I am a male feminist – and not just a male feminist who only stands up for feminism so far until it compromises my own sex’ privilege…

    I have not seen one ‘coach’ out there, not one, who does not give advice that is both born out of and underscores mainstream gender roles (dominant males and submissive females). Until I see otherwise, I think of this industry as sexist, even if at the benevolent level, though I’ve seen more instances of hostile sexism. I know Mark doesn’t agree with that, and his readers won’t either, but that’s my take on it.

    I’ll give you guys this much…I don’t think (most of) you are TRYING to be sexist most of the time. If you don’t have enough awareness to what is sexism and objectification is, especially becuase our culture promotes contradictory values with it, then it is difficult to spot it accurately, let alone get behind it. I think most of your intentions, if not now then at least when you started on your whole journey here, were good. But the masculinity (MASKulinity?) push among its cohorts has a way of sucking you in and fucking you up, and I know Mark would probably agree with that bit.

    I don’t completely understand how I wound up where I am now, being such a strong advocate for feminism and all, and leaving behind what was once my own small business in this industry. I think feminist issues (objectification) did resonate with me when I was in early adulthood, but I didn’t know how to articulate it at that point, and at the same time, I was dealing with mixed messages about what it means to be a man or a woman. When I got into this community in 2003, that only reinforced the cultural messages I was receiving. Even though I was less of a ‘masculine’ womanizer than the PUA culture generally promotes, and I was (still am) a friend of women, I did unknowingly take on and then emphasize a lot behaviors that I think are quite sexist and/or objectifying now when I look back at them. But I was blind to it, and my intentions were noble at the time, and that’s where I was in my development. Just like this is where you guys are at right now. I don’t expect you folks to become feminists, not by a long shot, but I do think one day when you have daughters you will look back at your behavior today and this whole culture, and it might have a different tint to it at that point. Anne Frank once said ‘despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart’, and I’d say that about you guys too.

    I think Mark does bring up some good points in this article but it is lacking in substance. When I first read it a couple of days ago, I thought there were at least a couple of instances he could’ve made a better argument, as well as retracted on some, if he didn’t overlook certain feminist theories or had more depth of knowledge to them (eg: sexual objectification – which is central to feminist theory). To me, the article reads more like a bold MRA/PUA ‘save my customers before they leave me’ writing filled with anger.

    Of course, I lean more toward the feminist argument side of things…however, I think that there is too much anger on both sides and because of the differences between them, the two groups become even more polarized. The issue will never get resolved, and I suspect that is okay with both parties at this point, for numerous reasons.

    Mark, you are only contributing to polarizing two groups on the issue, throwing anger on top of anger, and it sounds really insecure to me (but really awesome to your readers). I think you’re better than that. And I don’t think you should threaten ripping a woman to shreds online either. That really doesn’t look good. Are you trying to attract controversey or something? There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, but the way you are going about it is more than just a hair out of line, I feel. Think about that long and hard before you counterargue with me about feminism getting out of line as a way to deflect responsibility from yourself.

    Albeit the differences between mainstream gender roles and feminism ideals, at the very least, it HAS opened up a conversation that forces men to consider a woman’s subjectivity and maintains some tension there, rather than permitting men solely to objectify women, and that’s got to be a good thing.

    – A former PUA turned feminist

    • Mark says:

      I found the article to be offensive. And I find the notion that “believing in gender roles = sexism” to be offensive as well.

      If that sounds insecure to you, then so be it. I’ve been fair to and aired plenty of feminist opinions on this blog. But there’s a large segment of the movement that I find obnoxious at best and offensive at worst. Might as well cover both sides.

      • Paul says:

        ‘Believing’ and ‘Prescribing’ are two totally different things, Mark. Don’t confuse them.

        Feminism encourages people to choose their gender roles freely, but feels VERY strongly about creating conscious and aware individuals first.

        It’s similar to the sexual orientation issue when people say that anything but heterosexuality is abnormal. That is totally ignorant and creates so much oppression. Same thing with gender roles.

        The most infamous argument anti-feminists make regarding gender roles, just like the anti-gay’s make regarding homoesexuality, is the biological determinism one. You know my background is in science, and so I, unlike some others, can acknowledge and respect any biological underpinnings…but I am also aware of and give consideration to the psychological and social aspects of human development. Whatever biological influences have contributed to gender roles, in my opinion, does not grant the social license to excuse sexual objectification.

        If we as a species can learn how to deal with the emotion of anger before it turns into aggression, then I have full confidence that we could learn how to deal with sexuality without promoting behavior and values that have harmful consequences (for both women and men). Sexual objectification has some of the most severe consequences I’ve studied in human development. And while objectification will never completely go away, I think there is much progress to be made in sustaining the tension between object and subject on the larger scale of society, while also improving sex education, and learning how to negotiate the politics of domination and submission within couples. That seems much healthier than just being blind and letting the wind continue to blow us around, and also much healthier than completely adhering to feminist values and constraining society (I say constain, because to eradicate domination is also a form of domination – how solipsistic!). The answer lies in maintaing tension, and mutual recognition of one another.

        It’s not your ‘sexism’ that I find insecure, but your aggression toward the feminist movement and those who speak its most controversial ideas, the ones that most conveniently highlight ethical issues with your business, and the general privilege of males. I’m not going to make a right or wrong argument, but as I’ve said before, and probably will comment again at some point, I think there is either a lack of and or resistance to social awareness happening here. But thank you for your willingness to let these conversations take place, and even for initiating many of them with kindness. We truly appreciate it!

        • Mark says:

          I’m not prescribing anything Paul. In fact, it’s the study I’m arguing against that is prescribing their beliefs onto people! I just don’t want to be called a bigot because I prefer girlie-girls. Sorry, but that article is pushing an ideology and a morality (based on shitty science) onto people… don’t shoot the messenger.

          That’s why I’m aggressive though. There’s a lot of feminism that I agree with. And there’s a lot I find repulsive. I’m aggressive against beliefs I find offensive, no matter what school of thought they belong to. I’m aggressive against offensive beliefs when they come from PUA’s. I’m aggressive against them when they come from feminists.

          But now that it’s your group that I’m lashing out at, I’m suddenly insecure. Funny, you never questioned my insecurity when I wrote a dozen posts bashing PUA beliefs. 😉

          For what it’s worth, I agree with everything you say about sex education, sexuality politics, helping people to objectify others less, etc., etc. But I think that’s besides the point. The point is, I’m not bashing the article/study because it’s feminist. I’m bashing it because it’s shoving its morality down people’s throats, it misrepresents a large and varied group of people, and to be frank, it’s shitty science.

          • Paul says:

            If you truly want to contribute to ridding society of sexual objectification, maybe you should take down some of those rotating photos at the top of this website. I’m sure you know which ones.

            I see why you might have a gripe with the study, particularly regarding how ‘sexism’ is being interpreted. Do you know the operational definition of sexism used by the researcher? That might be worth looking into.

            Also, I agree with you on the criticism that “men who simply want to get laid are more likely to turn to the sort of “tricks” found in…”, because I personally did not get into this community 8 years ago to get my rocks off, but because I got out of a long-term relationship and was struggling to date for the first time out of high school. I’ve seen this in other men too, as well as you have I’m sure, but no doubt, the community REALLY reinforces lay count and the ability to seduce as fast as fucking possible as crucial to both one’s ability to attract, as well as one’s ‘masculinity’…and then other men reward them for that with an advance in status titles (eg: mPUA). When that message gets internalized by vulnerable guys (because they are all vulnerable to have been seduced themselves by this community) is when all shit hits the fan, if it hasn’t already because of some of the community’s other warped ideas, which I think we are both in agreement on what those are. I say all this just so you know that I understand where you stand.

            One of my concerns in reading your article, as I stated earlier, is the aggression you project onto ‘most feminists’. There is a big difference between criticizing science (which I am a fan of) and criticizing a movement that seeks to empower women (which I am not a fan of). Did you really post the article to criticize science? I don’t think so. It seems more like a critique against feminism, which some of your readers have been giving you shit for advocating in your anti-PUA posts. This is why I see this article as an attempt to save some of your readers and get them back on board…with a club soda with lime.

            You and I both know that I have ALWAYS strongly criticized the PUA movement, even when I had close ties to the community and we were part of the same forum, and I was regularly scapegoated against for abberational philosophies. You know, the ones that you gave me a hard time for and now promote in your business. No big deal. I’m glad you’ve come around. But regardless of whether I’m a feminist or not, I still rallied against the rationalities of the PUA movement back in the day before it ever became a selling point, so to try and point out that my problem is with you bashing feminism, only because I support it, frames it more as an identity defense on my part as opposed to a position on social rights.

            I DO agree with pretty much everything hilanoga had to say regarding the ‘no’ argument around consent, and think if you took a course on psychological trauma and did some counseling work with women, then you would absolutely change your tune. I think you owe her a sincere apology for your attempts to silence her before there could be mention of rape culture, and the psychological threat of a cyber attack that you used to achieve that. Really, that was disgusting, Mark. I know you’re better than that. Man up.

            If you have such a problem with THE WAY that feminism asserts its philosophies (eg: language), then put an emphasis on that while also showing your support. Hell, I will back you up on that one, because I have witnessed first hand how it wards off potential cohorts. I know that you do have some support of feminism in your own way, but really, pinning feminism down as a support group for psychologically damaged individuals expresses more disdain than supposed support.

            I really do hope you apply and are accepted into a PhD program of some kind one day. I think you would learn, grow as an individual, and make some excellent contributions to science. In my opinion, your potential has much more room to flourish in academia than in the pickup industry.

          • Paul says:

            Also, something to keep in mind…

            If you do want to be accepted into a PhD program one day, be mindful of what you post online, because it can be very hard to erase depending what other websites your philosophies & name turn up on…and that could compromise your admission process if they Google search you (many universities do). PhD programs are hard enough to get into as is (a 2-3% applicant acceptance rate is not uncommon), so don’t dig yourself in a hole if you’re serious about it. I think you would make an excellent researcher and professor.

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            *Fluffy passes his first place medal for Practical Pickup trolling to Paul, a tear rolls down his cheek as he has to give up his position as most hated commentor*

          • Mark says:

            This made me LOL… really hard.

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            Always here for your amusement ~

          • jurko says:

            I was reading this whole thread… and then your comment was so hularious I cannot stop fucking laughing LOOOOLLLL

          • Fluffy McGee says:

            domo arigatou ~

          • hilanoga says:

            I think you owe her a sincere apology

            I appreciate what you are trying to do, Paul, but it’s really unnecessary. I’ve climbed on Mark’s nerves more than once, and in fact I suspect he is being restrained in his replies to me, so I don’t feel like he should apologize for anything 🙂

          • Paul says:

            Fair enough, hil…

            I don’t know your background, but you seem pretty savvy on theory and I enjoy your posts. I’m learning from them as well.

          • Traindom says:

            It’s always nice to get a fresh perspective in topics like these. Especially with someone as informed over the topics at hand.

          • hilanoga says:

            Thanks 🙂
            I don’t have much of a background. I consider myself a “street feminist”. My friends are the ones with the impressive PhD’s in gender studies.

            This is probably why I’m here talking to you, instead of conducting an offensive research on the PUA community.

          • Mark says:

            Look Paul. I criticized feminism. Aggressively. Get over it.

            If you’d like to talk about the content of my criticisms or the content of the study, have at it. But please stop lecturing me on how I should run my own personal blog and stop making erroneous personal assumptions about me. It’s extremely condescending and makes it hard to take you seriously.

  6. saito says:

    Paul worte: I DO agree with pretty much everything hilanoga had to say regarding the ‘no’ argument around consent, and think if you took a course on psychological trauma and did some counseling work with women, then you would absolutely change your tune. I think you owe her a sincere apology for your attempts to silence her before there could be mention of rape culture, and the psychological threat of a cyber attack that you used to achieve that. Really, that was disgusting, Mark.

    Give me a break, will you! If you had ever seduced a women who is a bit insecure or does not want to feel like a slut when, for example, you are about to kiss her, you might would have known in your response that a “no” does not always mean “No, I don’t want this!” In fact, once I tried to kiss such a girl at least 5 times or so even though she did not comply right away. Beforehand, this girl told me that she loved me and we had a great connection. And you are telling me that I raped her, huh? She is traumatized, huh? Oh, that must be the reason why she wanted to keep in touch with me.

    Your accusation sounds as if you want Mark to participate in this video of yours 😉!

    • Paul says:

      Yes, I think that ‘no’ should always be interpreted as ‘no’.

      And if there is any truth to the fact that women didn’t mean ‘no’ when they say it, we need to be responsible men and take it seriously, and show them that it’s not okay.

      To reiterate what hilanoga said earlier, if that is your thinking, you might not know which one really means no when she says it.

      I’m not accusing anyone of rape. But certainly, I have heard some truly scary stories from women that should have been reported as rape, and most weren’t. The scars never go away.

      • Mark says:

        The “what does no mean?” issue is something I plan on revisiting at some point. But I don’t think I’m too far from you on this one.

        I think the crux of the issue actually has less to do with consent and more to do with “game playing.” I think very, very few men would ever consciously ignore a woman’s lack of consent if it was clear in unambiguous terms.

        The issue is when consent gets sucked into the mind games typical of many types of flirting (PUA tactics included). I think both men and women are culpable here. Meaning gets lost amidst the cross-manipulation from both sides, and as a result meaning of words begin to blur and become ambiguous. And when you start making consent ambiguous, people can get hurt (again, both men and women).

        I think if you teach guys (or girls) how to set boundaries effectively, create an expectation that you don’t play mind games and won’t tolerate mind games from the woman you’re with, then the “what does no mean?” issue resolves itself. Consent is clear. No more ambiguity.

  7. Sean says:

    I like those photos. For gosh sakes, this is a site about dating or learning how to date hot women. There are tons of female sites that have “beefcake” guys on them and they dissmissed. Bullcrap it is so lay off the photos – in other words (to quote the immortal classic “Stripes”) “Lighten up, Francis.”

    I personally have no problems with pickup artists in general. Most are pretty bad any way but good for guys that want to try and improve. It’s a free country so far (well it depends if Obama wins a second term ha ha!). in generality, it is when they get the idea of trying to teach guys and they think, “wow I got a make out” so I can teach this or I got a number from a Hooters girl with 38 DD’s. It typically becomes a disaster. No business sense with these guys. Too many bad pickup artists that become instructors. Makes pickup look bad. Not good.

    • Paul says:

      Objectification has different effects on different people, but generally speaking, the consensus in science thus far is that it bothers men nowhere near to the extent it does women. It personally bothers me though, and a lot, for whatever that is worth to ya.

  8. Mark says:

    There’s an old joke from the politically correct 90’s about feminism:

    Q: “How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
    A: “That’s not funny.”

  9. Dr. Jeremy says:

    Let me know if you ever seriously consider the PhD. It would be nice to have an open-minded fellow among the ranks 🙂

  10. Dr. Jeremy says:

    Two more things:

    1) The researcher of that study, Jeffrey Hall, has a PhD in communication – not social psychology. It may seem like a small difference to most people, but there are BIG differences between the fields in a number of areas. So, I needed to defend my people a bit 🙂

    2) The study is yet to be published. For those interested, you can find the abstract at

  11. Austen says:

    Paul, get off your high horse. Your comments reek of narcissism as well, especially that comment about getting a PhD.

  12. Fluffy McGee says:

    Nothing like an article about Feminism to get everyone up in arms.

    *munches on his popcorn and waits for the next flamebait*

  13. hilanoga says:

    Feminist/masculist article on this research in NSWATM. They seem to have found the original article, and there is quite a bit of criticism going on regarding the methods used etc.

    • Mark says:

      I actually managed to get a hold of it through a connection through a reader. Needless to say, I stand by my initial complaints about the language used and the methodology. Although I found the full results to be quite interesting.

      What I found really interesting is that the Salon article I quoted did not portray the results of the study completely accurately. Or at least led one to believe that men who are “sexist” are most likely to use pick up techniques, when the actual study itself found no such connection. So maybe my flying off the hinges at her was warranted after all.

      Either way, we’re going to return to our regularly scheduled programming here in a few hours. I can only take gender debates so much before I need to think about fucking again. 😉

      • hilanoga says:

        What?! Aren’t gender debates part of foreplay?!
        “Are you my little bitch? Say it!”
        “Yes, yes! I am your little bitch!”

        or, for the alternative couple:
        “Are you my little bitch?”
        “No! You are my little bitch! Say it!”

        totally sounds like a feminist/MRA fight to me 😀

  14. Robert says:

    “I think if you teach guys (or girls) how to set boundaries effectively, create an expectation that you don’t play mind games and won’t tolerate mind games from the woman you’re with, then the “what does no mean?” issue resolves itself. Consent is clear. No more ambiguity.”

    As a man how do you do that?

  15. Pellaeon says:

    On the subject of ‘no’ and ‘consent,’ I distinctly remember a post of Mark’s detailing an encounter with a woman who became angry with him when he lost interest in having sex with her when she said ‘no’. If I recall correctly, she proceeded to (try to) insult his masculinity, claiming that he should ‘know how this works’ and that he is supposed to keep going.

    I’ve always been rather miffed about PUA techniques being dismissed as across the board ‘manipulative cheap tricks.’ Similar to what Mark was saying above, they are neutral tools – they become manipulative when used in a manipulative manner, but when used with proper intentions (simply trying to spark a fun, sexual mood) it just good flirting.

    When someone tells a joke that they’ve rehearsed to get someone to laugh, I don’t ever hear anyone jumping up to say “how dare you manipulate me with your cheap tricks!” Yet somehow, by saying “That’s it, we’re breaking up. I want my CDs back” I’m suddenly a manipulative sexist? Really?

    As for the ‘not all women want a dominant man” thing, I agree – not all women are as described by PUA theory. Now I can’t speak for how things are in Israel, but in America, the fact is that MOST women respond to the principles behind PUA techniques. Whether this is because of biological predetermination or cultural conditioning is ultimately moot to me – the fact is, in America, there is no where else you can go to get practical dating advice that works (that isn’t copied off of PUA theories and diluted to pretend like it’s not associated with ‘the community’). I’ve done a lot of experimenting with acting contrary to PUA theories, just to test if they were valid. I have NEVER, in hindsight, been rewarded for acting more passive. In general the more dominant I have acted, and the more in accordance with the principles behind PUA theories, the more success I’ve had with dating.

    And to show we’re not just talking ‘low-self esteem bimbos’, my last relationship lasted six months. She was/is an attractive, mature woman who was/is twice my age (I was 23 when I dated her, she was about to turn 46). Almost every day that I saw her, she would laughingly tell me about some 20-something that tried to hit on her “Can you believe that? How could he ever think he had a chance?” And then she would remember that I was in my 20s, and remark about how mature I was. She would constantly tell me that I should write a book for guys teaching them about women, and occasionally remarked that she felt I could read her mind sometimes – all because of things I’ve said and done because of my experiences with PUA theory.

    • hilanoga says:

      “If I recall correctly, she proceeded to (try to) insult his masculinity, claiming that he should ‘know how this works’ and that he is supposed to keep going.”
      Louis CK said it better than I ever would. I think this is the video, but I can’t check right now.

      Tricks etc’ – there is nothing wrong with many of the PUA methods per se. Only when they are used as a substitute for fixing whatever is wrong in your life and having a healthy mindset they become a problem.
      This does not apply to negs. Negs are a nuisance. Men who try to neg me make it really hard for me not to practice my Kung Fu on them.

      Not all women want dominant men – again, I believe you that this is what most women want, and I believe you that your results will be better if you act dominant. I’m not arguing that you are wrong in that respect.
      I just don’t think everyone are good at that or should be good at that, and for some people it is important to know that there is an alternative. And don’t be mistaken – there is one. The “market share” may be smaller, but it does exist.
      Also – don’t mix “dominance” with being a healthy, functioning human being.

      • Pellaeon says:

        I’m glad to hear you see that about routines – it certainly heightens my respect for you, and, believe it or not, negs do have their place. The problem is that, in my experience, 90% of the situations your average ‘PUA in training’ encounters, they are NOT appropriate. Negs are useful only if the person you’re talking to is particularly superficial or accustomed to always getting what they want with little regard for the people who give it to them. They are also appropriate in the case of someone being undeservedly rude or aggressive towards you.

        The other problem is that most ‘PUAs in training’ tend to be bad at the ‘compliment’ part of ‘backhanded compliment’ and just outright insult somebody.I’ve never been a fan of negs, but I have found them useful recently when I’ve been treated with an inordinate amount of discourtesy from the get go.

        “Also – don’t mix ‘dominance’ with being a healthy, functioning human being.”

        I suspect that what you interpret “dominant” to mean is actually far stronger than is intended in the general PU material. I’ve always taken their use of ‘dominant’ to mean being pro-active and taking initiative – being assertive rather than passive.
        In other words, don’t give her your number and hope that she calls you – get her number and call her yourself. Don’t ask her where she wants to go on your first date, make a suggestion and allow her to agree or disagree from there.

        It’s the subtle difference between “Do you want to go out with me?” – which places a huge emotional burden of committing to whether or not she likes (you before she even really knows you)- and “Come have a drink with me tomorrow night” – which provides her with the opportunity to say yes or no without making a huge emotional commitment.

        I suspect that your version of “dominance” is what I would refer to as “domineering” – attempting to force your will on others. It’s the not so subtle difference between “I’m going to make love to you” and “Don’t be such a prude. We’re GOING to have sex tonight”

  16. DJ Fuji says:

    Fascinating discussion here, both with the original article and with the follow up comments.

    Mark’s article, as usual, was spot-on in calling out the spade.

    I’m theorizing, but I think most of the ‘anger’ or ‘aggression’ on Mark’s part (and mine) was simply taking offense at the fairly blatant attempt to push an agenda under the ill-concealed guise of science and logic.

    It reminds me a bit of the whole ‘intelligent design’ concept. That is, “We’re starting to lose support for the whole ‘god created us’ idea in general society (as well as academic realms), so let’s change it up with a new theory that basically says the same thing but in a ‘scientific’ way.”

    And to that extent, I think a lot of critical thinking gets lost (across the board) when people argue and rally not for the truth, but to prove that they’re right. It’s akin to a court having racist jurors who are more concerned with convicting a black man than with finding out if he was guilty or innocent.

    You will always find evidence to support your beliefs, true or not.

  17. General G says:

    The methodology underlying this study is a joke. Obviously nobody should claim that this study has “scientific” quality.

    Firstly, the study randomly reduces a complex procedere like the MM-style pick up process to 3 basic concepts that obviously make very little sense isolated from the general MM-framework.

    Next step: The concepts themselves like isolation or teasing are so vague and leave so much room for individual interpretation that they cannot serve as a basis for any argumentation.

    Etc. etc.

    Obviously the author of the study has a very limited understanding of his object (MM), and of methodology.

    Please do not refer to this study as “scientific” anymore.

  18. Ora says:

    Seems to be so that Mark really pushed a button with this post 🙂

  19. Chris says:

    – Accepting gender roles *is* sexism. According to wikipedia:
    a sexist attitude is one which suggests human beings can be understood or judged on the basis of the essential characteristics of the group to which an individual belongs.

    That definition is ridiculous. I suppose the definition of racism is the acknowledgment of differences of skin color now as well?

    If it’s sexist to realize that a human being with a XX chromosomes is statistically predisposed to significantly different genetic traits (muscularity, visio-spacial intelligence, social cognition, etc) than a human being with an XY chromosomes. Sexism is the most rational position to take.

    If science conclusively proved that one race was on average more intelligent than another regardless of upbringing or circumstance. Would you not accept it because it’s not politically correct and or disconcerting? (I’m not claiming this is true, only a polarizing hypothetical example).
    I bet 80+% of people generally wouldn’t, but that wouldn’t stop it from being true.

    There are scientific truths about reality. On the level of evidence and scientific fact, ideology and opinion only serve to confuse and hinder your understanding of what really IS.

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