I typically don’t follow or really care for mainstream interviews of big PUA figures or dating coaches. Most of them are some combination of hype, babble and sales pitches. But this one is actually quite good. Neil Strauss was recently interviewed by a feminist blogger and dating advice columnist with a self-described “pick up artist fetish.” Regular readers will know that I’m not exactly Neil’s biggest fan. I think his advice is shitty and his books are mediocre. But I have to say his answers in this interview were both insightful and interesting. In fact, I agree with just about everything he says here and was even impressed with a few of his points. You can read the whole thing here. Highlights with my comments are below.
“I think one of the many misconceptions about The Game is somehow that guys are being taught to be fake—I know I’m more real and more honest than I ever was before The Game, when I was too shy to really express myself. People go through a process of not being themselves. It’s part of the journey. Through anything you have to struggle and get dirty in the mud and get to the other side and become yourself, and that’s part of the process.”
This is probably the most reasonable defense I’ve ever heard for the PUA nonsense of wearing fuzzy hats, shiny pants, claiming to believe in spells, lying about your stripper ex-girlfriend, using fake names, making up stupid games, etc. — all of which are espoused in The Game. I agree with his overarching point: that often to free up one’s personality and ability to express himself, a guy must sometimes pretend to be something he’s not. I would just argue that there are far healthier and more socially acceptable ways of doing this — ways that don’t involve misleading people, dressing like an idiot, reciting rehearsed lines, or alienating most of your friends.
“On some levels male sexuality is everywhere in society, but on the other hand it’s completely repressed: Men are afraid to show it because it will make them socially unacceptable as well as less sexually desirable. I wanted to write something that was honest about male sexuality, not like Maxim magazine or the billboards.”
Socially unacceptable? Often, yes. Less sexually desirable? Absolutely not. I think Neil’s continuing to make the error in his thinking that lead to all of the routine-gimmicky nonsense of his book: that a man can’t be sexually assertive and attractive at the same time. If the whole “natural game” and “direct approach” movements have shown anything in the last five years, it’s that being sexually assertive makes a man MORE attractive to women. He just has to do it in a respectful and confident manner.
What I find more interesting is his intention for The Game to be an honest depiction of male sexuality. I think in many ways, it accomplished that well. To my knowledge, there has never really been a mainstream work that captures the conundrum of modern male sexuality: that he must be the initiator, but that initiating is seen as socially shameful.
CT: A lot of pickup artists talk about how much they hate feminism.
NS: Here’s the deal. Anyone who hates something feels threatened by it. A guy who says he hates feminism (a) doesn’t understand or know feminism, and (b) is scared of powerful women. Most attacks come from fear.
I like this and agree with it, and I also think it goes both ways. I understand why PUA’s attack feminism — they’ve felt sexually marginalized for most of their lives and so the prospect of feminine gaining power elicits a violent reaction from them. Feminists knee-jerk attack PUA’s for the exact same reason. But when you violently react to an idea, you’re giving it power by doing so. Feminism as an idea and philosophy doesn’t bother me so much because I don’t see gender power as a zero-sum game. Empowering women around me does not lower my power for myself and vice-versa. I think that’s where a lot of the feminist haters go wrong: they intuitively assume that by empowering the women around them, they will once again be subverted and lose the standing they’ve worked so hard to acquire.
Guys like that also end up dating only really weak and pathetic women… No thanks. There are more posts in the pipeline on this subject.