Picking Up

originally posted on tumblr

(warning that this will get triggery)

Okay, there’s this pickup-manual kickstarter that’s about to fund, and it’s super fucking disgusting, and KS is likely to not do anything about it. This isn’t actually about that specific thing, but thinking about it made me want to throw out some thoughts about the whole PUA thing in general and maybe do some therapy on myself at the same time. This is just me writing as I think it here, so sorry in advance if it’s disjointed.

The thing that gets me about the PUA stuff is that I can see the appeal of it. I’m 34 years old and I haven’t dated anyone since high school. I’ve got a lot of body and self-esteem issues (not least related to having been about 400 pounds until recently) and I tend to feel like I’m not deserving of affection or love at all, to say nothing of a romantic or sexual relationship. So I absolutely understand why some people would find a ‘system’ for that kind of thing appealing. I’m also a computer programmer by trade and hobby, and the idea of ordered systems that can be manipulated for a desired result is a thing I’m used to and comfortable with.

But one thing I’ve tried to do is to actually listen to people and understand them as people, and I’ve learned a couple of things from that. To start with, people aren’t machines. They are living, breathing, feeling, thinking people and you do not have the right to try to coldly manipulate them to get to use their body. That woman is not a puzzlebox that gets your dick wet if you push the right buttons and say the secret code phrase.

Further, take some time and listen to what women have to say about the way men treat them both physically and emotionally. I’d suggest starting with the Everyday Sexism Project and their twitter feed and see what women have to deal with from men like these. Try to understand the degradation and humiliation that they feel because some asshole imposed on them sexually when they didn’t want it. Really try. Don’t dismiss it with “well, she should have taken it as a compliment!” or “just ignore that kind of thing, I do.” Do not deny peoples’ feelings, because they can’t.

Now look at the kind of shit that PUAs do and realize how much of it is the sort of thing that is hurting women, just because those women had the misfortune to get into the sights of a man who was trying to get laid. The PUA shit reduces women to nothing but a sexual conquest, and denies their agency and self-worth in the most disgusting ways.

As I’m writing this, someone just posted a link to a Kotaku story about women being assaulted and harassed at E3. Read that too. Here’s an excerpt:

You might want to think that these women should have said or done something to defend themselves. Don’t. Because there’s a common theme here: immobility. When you’re approached or attacked like this, you can find yourself paralyzed. Confused. Unsure of how to respond.

These men are doing real damage to women, and PUA ‘techniques’ are part of their arsenal. The PUA manual guy whose kickstarter inspired this post says things like

Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.

See how that kind of shit is harmful yet?

Well, that kickstarter just hit its deadline, and no word from Kickstarter itself that they’ll take any action against it. Seeing that kind of made me lose steam on this.