This article was originally published in three parts over at the Good Men Project. I’m really close to finishing my book Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews With Hideous Men, and believe me, you will all know as soon as it is done. The book is way awesomer than anything you can imagine. It also has many more fun anecdotes and is less academic in tone than this article.

Update! The book is out now!

Before we get into the article, here’s my absolute favorite comic on the topic of seduction. Description and transcript at the end of this post. Click the image to embiggen:

There is an enormous subculture devoted to teaching men how to seduce women. Within the last half-decade or so, these underground “pickup artists” have burst into the popular consciousness, aided by Neil Strauss’s bestselling book The Game and VH1’s hit reality show “The Pick-Up Artist.”

Pickup artists — also known as the “seduction community” — exchange ideas in thousands of online fora, using extensive in-group jargon. One pickup artist site lists “over 715 terms, and counting.” There are pickup artist meetups, clubs, and subculture celebrities all over the world. There are different ideological approaches and theoretical schools of seduction. Well-known pickup artist “gurus” can make millions of dollars per year: they may sell books; they may sell hours of “coaching”; they may organize training “bootcamps” or conventions with pricy tickets; they may run companies full of instructors trained in their methods. The community even generates its own well-thought-out internal critiques.

I am a sex-positive feminist lecturer and writer. I write primarily about my experiences with sadomasochism, but I have a general interest in sexuality. I first encountered pickup artists when smart ones started attending my educational events and commenting on my blog.

Some aspects of pickup artistry are hugely problematic; many parts of the community showcase and encourage misogyny. While exploring the PUA jungle, I observed things that turned my stomach and brought tears to my eyes. On the other hand, I had to admit that some pickup artist perspectives were very interesting. Some had fascinating insights about gender theory and social power. I also felt drawn by their exploits. Learning seduction, and watching hypothetically-dazzling Casanovas run a courtier-like game, sounded like an extremely fun way to spend my time.

I started my journey by talking to a few pickup artists and reading their fora. By the end, I had given a lecture at a seduction convention, and I had decided against developing my own coaching business. Within the next few months, I plan to release a pop-feminist book online titled Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews with Hideous Men. In the meantime, I can offer a quick synopsis of my own history, and why I became so interested in PUAs. I will break down some elementary distinctions among the men of the seduction community. Finally, I will offer a few PUA-influenced thoughts on feminist goals.

* * *

I was an awkward little bookworm of a child, but at least I was creative. I liked to draw, invent games, and run amateur social experiments. When I was in high school, most of my friends were on the Internet; I did not date a real-life boyfriend until college. I was inevitably teased by my peers, but even when treated well, I rarely engaged with the social hierarchies around me. I had difficulty grasping how social mechanics were “supposed” to work. A lot of things seemed obvious to other people that were not obvious to me.

For example, in sixth grade, a female friend of mine teased me about flirting with a boy. “What was I doing?” I asked. “Come on, you were flirting!” she responded. While I thought I almost understood what she meant, I was unsure — so I set out to poll everyone I knew about what constitutes “flirting.” Responses were inconsistent. One person said, very definitely: “Giggling.” Others cited examples such as “intense looks” or “making jokes.”

By the end of this experiment, I concluded that no one seemed able to explain “flirting” in terms of consistent behaviors; there were few commonalities in my final list. From what I could tell, flirting could only be explained in terms of invisible interpersonal dynamics. I found this both entertaining and frustrating.

I sometimes wonder what would have become of me if the modern pickup artist community had existed back then, and I had discovered it. PUAs devote a lot of time to understanding seduction in terms of observed behaviors. They have terms for social tactics that run the gamut from creating rapport, to encouraging trust, to building sexual tension, to shifting social power. But although the purpose of these social tactics is to manipulate emotion, the tactics are typically described as concretely as possible. Some PUA coaches provide long memorized “routines,” but it is more common to talk about particular social actions or broader strategies.

One famous PUA tactic is called the “neg.” “Neg” stands for “negative hit”, and one site defines a neg as “a remark, sometimes humorous, used to point out a woman’s flaws.” Like many PUA terms, the deeper meanings and usage vary from PUA to PUA — but there is an especially dramatic range of meanings with “neg.”

Some PUAs see negs as friendly teasing: a way for the PUA to show that he is paying attention to the girl, without appearing needy or overeager. I can offer a cute example of this approach from my own life. I was sitting in a café with a former PUA, and he gazed deep into my eyes.

“Wait a minute,” he said slowly. “Are your glasses held together by epoxy? It looks like you had to repair them at the corners.”

“Yeah,” I admitted.

He grinned. “Everything about you just screams ‘starving artist’, doesn’t it.”

This made me laugh for quite a while. I think it worked because he understood that I have chosen (for now) to be a broke writer — but he also recognized the tension I feel about that choice. So this gentleman was demonstrating that he correctly discerned my priorities; that he is not bothered by a choice that makes me feel self-conscious; and that he is confident enough to tease me.

Also, at a moment when I thought he might compliment my eyes, the former PUA shook up my expectations by breaking the romantic pattern. Often, effective flirting involves offering the right mixture of confidence plus charming novelty plus paying attention.

Some PUAs see negs more strategically, as a way of passing a woman’s “tests” or breaching her indifference. They argue that this is necessary for women who are very high-status, very beautiful, etc. They argue that some women develop a kind of immunity to compliments, and that some women actively prefer feisty, faux-adversarial flirting. Most PUAs only advocate using negs on women who meet a certain “minimum” level of attractiveness, or who seem particularly feisty. Neil Strauss, a famous PUA and author of the bestseller The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, once wrote that:

When you give a woman who’s often hit on a generic compliment, she will usually either ignore the remark or assume you’re saying it because you want to sleep with her.

When you tease her and show her that you’re unaffected by her beauty and demonstrate that you’re out of her league — and THEN let her work to win you over and ultimately REWARD her with your approval, she will leave that night feeling good about herself. Like something special happened and she connected with somebody who appreciates her for who she REALLY is.

In short, a neg will buy you the credibility you need to sincerely compliment her later.

That said, I don’t necessarily advocate negs; they are in many ways a temporary patch to stick onto your personality while you learn to possess real confidence and strength of character.

Although this is a manipulative approach, it is not inevitably harmful. It also is not limited to the sphere of sexual relationships; humans often pretend not to care what other people think, and consistently attempt to be taken seriously by others. Additionally, for many people, flirting involves a certain amount of strategic ambiguity and plausible deniability, and negs are a useful tactic for that kind of game. Not everyone likes playing such tacit and confusing games, but many people do.

However, this is all cute and mild compared to how some PUAs talk about negs: some cite the neg specifically as a tactic to make the girl feel bad.

A well-known PUA who goes by the name of Tyler Durden once wrote that: “You use self-esteem negs to lower the target’s self-esteem, and crave your attention to re-validate herself.” Similarly, an especially pitiless PUA blogger who is sometimes described as “the Darth Vader of PUAs” writes that:

The best negs are those which are conceivably meant as compliments, but which linger in her psyche for hours afterward, undermining her self-conception and encouraging her to qualify herself to you [i.e. encouraging her to explain why she’s worth your time]. … [A neg] infiltrates a girl’s subconscious so that she spends more mental energy analyzing her worth than she does analyzing yours.

One commenter adds to the above blogger’s words that: “So long as you have a woman auditioning for you, power remains where it belongs — squarely in your pocket.”

In other words, a person who feels anxious and unworthy will be easier to control. These cruel PUAs have learned the same lesson as thousands of people in abusive relationships.

Here is an especially instructive quotation from the comments on “Darth Vader’s” blog: “[Women] really are insipid, vapid airheads. If it wasn’t for the pussy, there would be a bounty on them.” That statement is interesting not just because of its hatred, but because of its fear. After all, no one puts a bounty on targets that are not dangerous. The most misogynist corners of the PUA subculture not only discuss ways to aggressively manipulate women; they also paint women as selfish, deceitful and hazardous.

The various approaches to negging highlight both the different shadings of opinion across the subculture, and a particularly important distinction among PUAs themselves. Some of these men genuinely do enter pickup artistry out of a desire to connect to women. As one PUA told me, “When I first looked at PUA stuff, I was like, ‘This is so sleazy and gross.’ But I’d never had a girlfriend, and I kept telling myself, ‘Dude, you are lonely and miserable and you don’t want to die alone.’” On the other hand, many PUAs become PUAs because they want unilateral power and control over women — and many PUAs attempt to justify this through narratives and jokes that encourage fear and anger against women.

* * *

Aside from the “connection” vs. “control” distinction, there is also a distinction between PUAs who are seeking what is essentially self-help, and those who aren’t.

The PUA concept that best illustrates this is “inner game.” Inner game is, essentially, genuine confidence and sense of purpose. It contrasts with “outer game” — i.e., the things a PUA says and does to attract women. A “neg” would count as “outer game”, for example.

Most successful PUAs reach a point where they decide that, in the words of one coach: emotionless “sport-fucking kinda sucks.” (Some PUAs start at this point, but that is a bit unusual.) They conclude that it’s time to pull back from the game; to seek longer-term or more emotionally connected sex; to examine their priorities; and to discover interests aside from picking up new girls. Finding themselves in this way can be described as “inner game.” The men who discuss inner game often talk about developing their own businesses, exercising regularly, keeping a healthier diet, accepting their own vulnerabilities, pursuing hobbies, and improving their connections with people of all genders.

Most PUAs also realize that women respond well to genuine confidence and sense of purpose. This could be seen as ironic: notwithstanding the fact that “inner game” emphasizes self-improvement, the concept is still centered on seducing women. However, despite the fact that “inner game” is centered on gaming ladies, its ultimate result is usually to encourage PUAs to think about what they really want from life. PUA coach Mark Manson once wrote that, “You don’t end up in the Pick Up Artist community unless you are incredibly unhappy or unsatisfied about something. It may be conscious, it may be unconscious. It may be short-term, or it may be deep-seated and long-term.” He later wrote to me by email that: “This is a giant self-help community in disguise.” I also once interviewed Neil Strauss himself, who said he hoped that his famous book The Game could become “the beginning of a men’s self-help movement — because self-help isn’t emasculating anymore if you’re doing it to get laid.”

Interestingly, Neil Strauss also told me that he agreed with feminism in many ways, and said things like: “We still are a patriarchal society.” Many feminists felt that my interview with him was full of problematic statements, and his words were picked apart by feminist readers. I do not disagree with many feminist critiques of what Strauss said — but considering where Strauss was coming from, his words were extraordinarily supportive of feminism. One feminist commented to me that, “I don’t understand why you’re not more critical of this guy.” In response, it is worth noting how an anti-feminist writer responded to Strauss’s words:

Whether Strauss is an ignorant fool or an opportunist liar who wants to appease feminists in order to avoid negative feedback is anyone’s guess, but if his words are anything to go by, we can safely assume that the best-known public advocates of Game are perfectly OK with parroting feminist dogma.

For the few, mild pro-feminist statements Strauss made, some PUAs deride him as either an “ignorant fool or an opportunist liar.” (Others hurled particularly misogynist insults such as “mangina.”) This is both a demonstration of how vitriolic PUA anti-feminist sentiment can become, and an example of the social shaming that sometimes leads men in the PUA community to avoid associating themselves with anything resembling feminist thought or woman-friendly perspectives.

Clearly, many men view pickup artistry as a kind of therapy. The community can be a support group for self-confidence and self-improvement. Unfortunately, many corners of the seduction community are also a support group for virulent misogyny. Some feminists argue that any man who seeks self-help through the seduction community is effectively embracing misogyny, because so much of the community is misogynist. However, some PUA students could be interpreted as seeking self-help from the only avenue they see as acceptable, if they are coming from a culture that usually defines self-help as un-masculine or anti-masculine. Again, note that Neil Strauss said: “self-help isn’t emasculating anymore if you’re doing it to get laid.”

The most confusing thing about misogyny among PUAs is that although some more-misogynist PUAs separate themselves consciously from non-misogynist PUAs, and vice versa, the groups still overlap a great deal. Even PUA-influenced men who prioritize non-misogyny, and are willing to talk to a feminist writer like me, often seem to soak up misogynist ideas from the rest of the subculture. I had experiences like talking to one PUA I thought was committed to being non-sexist, and listening to him expound quite seriously upon how his favorite PUA blogger thinks the USA would be better off if women did not vote. One goal of my upcoming book, Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, is to draw clearer lines: to give examples of PUAs and PUA approaches that seem more abusive or inclined towards harm, as opposed to approaches that seem mostly playful, harmless or even positive.

* * *

Although I want to cry when I see statements like, “If it wasn’t for the pussy, there would be a bounty on women,” I try not to let it distract me from some insights emerging from the seduction community. By focusing empirically and pragmatically on the process of sexual escalation, PUAs are approaching gender norms in a way that many people — including feminists — usually do not. Also, I can relate to some PUAs because some PUAs have the same history of social anxiety that I do.

I have another personal reason for feeling uncomfortable painting PUAs as “the enemy.” When feminists criticize how PUAs approach sexuality, I have mixed feelings, because I myself am known for sexual desires that are unpopular with some feminists. As I grew out of being an awkward little bookworm nerd, as I began dating and exploring my sexual needs, I started to understand my sexuality as being heavily involved with BDSM: Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism and Masochism. (BDSM is also sometimes referred to as sadomasochism, S&M, B&D, bondage, leather, or kink.)

Consensual BDSM is a heavily stigmatized type of sexuality, although some sexologists have argued that it might be viewed as a sexual orientation. Many feminists marginalize BDSM just as much as the rest of society does — or more. Famous German feminist Alice Schwarzer once said: “Female masochism is collaboration,” and a recent history of “Ms. Magazine” quotes a co-founding editor who recalls that:

I threatened to leave over a manuscript by a woman who was a former editor of ours who was writing about why she was a masochist and trying to make it an okay choice. I would rather leave than work for a magazine that published that. And we didn’t publish it.

As a result, notwithstanding my considerable feminist writing and activism, I live in fear of my “feminist card” being revoked because of my BDSM identity.

Yet, simultaneously, my practice of BDSM has greatly informed my feminist understanding. Rape and consent are both very important feminist issues, and much of the BDSM community obsessively examines sexual consent. The dominant BDSM community “mantra” is “SSC: Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” Some people debate whether another “mantra” would be better, but I have never heard of someone removing the “consensual” part. Indeed, the ways many BDSMers think of sexual consent overlap dramatically with the ways that many feminists think of it.

Safewords are a famous and high-profile example of careful BDSM communication tactics. They are specific code words that any participant can use to stop the sexual action at any time. Safewords are important in a context where one partner might want to scream “No!” or “Please don’t!” or “Mercy!” with no intention of actually stopping the action.

Safewords serve another, stealthier, but equally important function: they bring home the idea that consent is a continuously changing process. Consent is part of the ongoing sexual negotiation that takes place between two people. Here, BDSM consent ideas overlap heavily with feminist consent ideas. For example, one article by high-profile feminist Jaclyn Friedman pushes back against dominant conceptions of consent by stating that “consent is not a lightswitch.” As Friedman writes:

Sexual consent isn’t like a lightswitch, which can be either “on,” or “off.” It’s not like there’s this one thing called “sex” you can consent to anyhow. “Sex” is an evolving series of actions and interactions. You have to have the enthusiastic consent of your partner for all of them. And even if you have your partner’s consent for a particular activity, you have to be prepared for it to change.

Safewords are, effectively, a constant reminder that “you have to be prepared for [consent] to change.”

BDSMers and feminists tend to teach explicit, straightforward verbal sexual communication — in contrast to the seduction community, which typically teaches non-verbal or playfully tacit sexual communication. For example, the seduction community has an extensive array of discussions about how to initiate flirtatious touching, which PUAs refer to as “kino.” The seduction community also places a strong emphasis on developing skill at reading a social situation without asking exactly what is going on; if a PUA is good at understanding implicit social signals, he is described as “calibrated.”

For BDSMers and feminists, the sexual consent territory continues to overlap after safewords. Huge factions, if not majorities, within both groups have concluded that the best way to encourage consent is not merely to encourage people to understand that they can withdraw consent at any point — but to encourage open communication and self-knowledge about sex.

Among feminists, an example of this approach is Jaclyn Friedman’s brand-new book What You Really, Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety. Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory notes in an interview with Friedman that:

The book is filled with writing exercises that prompt readers to reflect on everything from body image to sexual assault. It’s essentially a guide to writing one’s own personal sexual manifesto.

Among BDSMers, an example of this approach is the multi-page checklists that some BDSMers use. These are essentially lists of every conceivable BDSM-related act; each act on the checklist looks something like this:

FLOGGING — GIVING ________________ O O O O O
FLOGGING — RECEIVING ______________ O O O O O

Each partner rates each entry by filling out 1-5 bubbles, with 1 darkened bubble meaning “Not interested” and 5 bubbles meaning “I crave this!” This type of explicit communication is both an excellent way to help partners understand each other’s desires — and to help partners understand each other’s boundaries. In a way, this sort of thing could be seen as “Master Class” consent communication.

This was the context whence I emerged when I started investigating pickup artistry. I am a feminist, but I’m a flavor of feminist with a troubled history within the movement. I am an advocate for explicit communication, but I believe that no aspect of consent should be ignored, and I am concerned that many feminists and BDSMers give a certain unwarranted privilege to explicit verbal communication over implicit or non-verbal communication.

People seem likely to develop a preference for explicit communication if it seems more necessary. For instance, many BDSMers develop a preference for explicit communication because our desires are unusual and precise, and complicated words will help us get what we want. Feminists develop the same preferences because explicit communication is the clearest way to ensure sexual consent. Accordingly, some people attempt to promote explicit sexual communication by saying: We should make it necessary.

Here’s an example exchange from the comments on a thoughtful feminist BDSM blog. A male commenter asks:

I once had an argument with a very good female friend of mine about kissing. She was perturbed about a date who asked her if he could proceed to kiss her. She said the man should just know. It should be instinctual and u lose the moment as soon as u ask. I said that was bs, the first move is one of the most nerve wracking things, the very fact that he asked shows his politeness and tact and frankly a lack of presumptuousness. … What do you think? What’s the line between politeness and passivity?

The feminist blogger, an intelligent and awesome lady who goes by the name Holly Pervocracy, responds that:

I don’t say this very often, but “you lose the moment as soon as you ask” girls really are ruining it for the rest of us.

As far as I’m concerned, they can go without ever being kissed until they wise up.

However, I think (or would like to think? augh) that most girls are not like that, and that you should not plan for girls to be like that. I’d definitely rather offend someone by asking than offend them by not asking.

Holly implies that people who don’t like explicit communication should effectively be banned from kissing: she says, “they can go without ever being kissed until they wise up.” I have a certain cantankerous sympathy for this perspective, and I have said similar things myself in the past. But my research into pickup artists made me wonder about whether this perspective is tenable, given a world in which most people seem to enjoy and engage in a great deal of tacit communication.

Speaking only for myself, I must admit that I like it when a man can read my unspoken signals well enough that he can tell when to kiss me without asking aloud. Sometimes it can be nice when a guy asks. But if he can read my tacit communication about kissing, that is a signal that he can read a lot of my other tacit communication as well.

Furthermore, if many people really enjoy unspoken social games and strategic uncertainty, then “the game” will never go away. Evidence that people enjoy those things does not only include the pickup artist subculture — romantic comedies and romance novels consistently find a market, after all.

Additionally, part of improving sexual communication means learning more about unspoken communication — not just spoken communication. The pioneering social economist Peter F. Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” This maxim is no less true when it comes to sex than it is in any other area of human endeavor. PUAs have spent years gathering information on tacit sexual communication, so perhaps one feminist goal should be to try and understand what they’ve learned, such as the characteristics of excellent social “calibration.”

Some feminists and BDSMers exist who already think a lot about teaching implicit or unspoken communication. On the feminist side, one webpage about sexual violence features an image of a woman saying: “I stopped kissing you back. I pushed your hand away. I said I wanted to leave. It all meant ‘NO’.” On the BDSM side, there is often an expectation that BDSM partners will discuss their experience and reactions once they are done doing BDSM with each other, so as to learn more about how to read each other’s tacit signals. However, I have never encountered a BDSM seminar on the topic of non-verbal communication, though I’ve attended several on verbal communication.

My perspective on non-verbal communication is not without precedent among feminist BDSMers, though my willingness to deal extensively with PUAs might be. Still, I believe that non-verbal communication is not taught well, and that feminists and BDSMers in particular do not spend enough time discussing its role in sexual interactions. Given that both communities emphasize that consent and communication are crucially intertwined, perhaps both communities might draw insight from some PUA conceptions of “kino,” “calibration” and other ways of examining implicit communication.

I once started a thread about pickup artists on a major feminist blog, to which one feminist responded: “I’m getting so sick of these PUA threads. … So I’ll just come out and say it: PUAs rape women through coercion and manipulation. Full stop.”

There are a lot of things about pickup artistry that I really do not like. There were points during my PUA adventures when I learned about incidents and strategies that blatantly sound like rape. This is a huge can of worms, and I will discuss it more in my upcoming book. For now I will only note that there is an entire PUA area of inquiry called “Last Minute Resistance” (or “LMR”): that is, what happens when a woman resists having sex. “Last Minute Resistance tactics” (”LMR tactics”) are designed to convince a woman who has expressed hesitance, distaste or discomfort to have sex anyway.

“The first two ‘no’s don’t mean much, and should be expected,” advises one PUA while outlining LMR tactics. This is exactly the kind of thing that gives the community a bad name. In fairness, some PUAs talk about trying to understand why a girl is uncomfortable, and then addressing the root cause of her discomfort. For example, a PUA might advise asking whether she is menstruating, and then reassuring her that he won’t be grossed out by having sex if she is. Some PUAs try to claim that most LMR tactics are harmless and communicative, but this is a difficult claim to defend. I have always been more impressed by the few PUAs who simply advocate respecting Last Minute Resistance, such as David Shade:

Do not push against last minute resistance. You will be like all the other guys who objectify women and do not respect her as a real person. And it will reek of desperation.

… In fact, move things along just slightly slower than she’d like it. Make her wait. It builds that sexual tension, and it makes her think. When she is away from you, she is going to think about it a lot. (from The Secrets of Female Sexuality, by David Shade. David Shade Corporation, 2007.)

Of course, while Shade is advising his clients to respect boundaries, he’s advising them to respect boundaries as a tactic for seducing the woman eventually. Another example of this approach comes from Mark Manson, who appears more interested in respecting women for the sake of respecting women, but whose main thrust is still seduction advice:

In [an LMR situation], there’s always a fork in the road: you can do the typical freeze-out/high-pressure PUA bullshit to try to manipulate her or annoy her into giving up the resistance. Or you can be honest about the situation and resign yourself to accepting the fact that you may not have sex tonight.

Guys, listen. Always, always, always go with the second option. It may sound counter-intuitive, but you have to go with the second option. Not only because it’s the right thing to do. Not only because it’s what any respectful human being should do. But because if you make it clear that there is absolutely no pressure for her to sleep with you, if you show her that you can be trusted and that you’re OK with whatever she decides (and by the way, you do need to be OK with whatever she decides), then she’s going to become ten times more comfortable with you, and therefore is actually more likely to WANT to have sex with you.

PUA frameworks and tactics are often consent-friendly. Many “LMR tactics” encourage pushiness or even outright non-consensual behavior, such as ignoring the woman when she says, “No.” Yet things I discussed in previous sections of this article — such as “negs,” and body-language “kino” tactics — are clearly neutral: their usage is shaped mostly by the goals of individual PUAs and the social context in which they occur. Discussions of social “calibration” — increasing one’s capacity to read social situations — as well as “inner game” and being attractive by improving oneself will generally be a positive good. Indeed, it could be argued that no PUA tactics are inherently abusive, but some are more obviously susceptible to being used badly … the same way a sword is more obviously susceptible to evil usage than a table.

Previous feminist writers have usually preferred to complain about the seduction community’s misogyny rather than examining the community deeply. I have been more interested to see whether I could understand and make use of the positive PUA theories. Understanding the “Darth Vader” types might be useful, too. There is a percentage of PUAs who are non-consensually hurting women, and if we learn how those men do it, we might also figure out how to disarm them.

I must acknowledge that I eventually felt that the community was damaging, poisonous, and unhealthy for me — to the extent that I needed to get out and detox. (PUA detox is a recognized phenomenon even among some PUAs … and former PUAs.) However, there are truths within it that are both intriguing and important.

I have never quite erased my fear of having my “feminist card” revoked, although it is not clear how “feminists” — a fractious group if ever there was one — could withdraw my presence in the movement. There is no Central Standards Bureau for feminists. Still, I am unsure what the reception for my book Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser will be like, despite my belief that there are important and interesting things to learn from PUAs about gender, culture, and feminist consent models.

An overall lesson here might be that thinkers with a lot in common are increasingly isolated from each other through the accelerating Balkanization of detailed, insular interest-based subcultures. Like the drive towards interdisciplinary research in academia, perhaps a kind of interdisciplinary subcultural approach is being developed by those of us more interested in building bridges than burning them.

* * *

Footnote: I will link to this “Darth Vader” blogger, but I preface the links with a statement that — while he is very intelligent — he is blatantly cruel and misogynist and is recognized as such even by some other men in the pickup artist community. As the seduction coach Mark Manson once said to me, this blogger is “pretty much as bad as it gets.” Also, I have saved copies of the “Darth Vader” posts I cite — although this precaution is a bit of a formality, since I doubt he would have the sense of social responsibility to delete his evil posts even if he recognized that they’re evil. On the other hand, “Darth Vader” once deleted a post in which he acknowledged that he had committed partner violence, so perhaps even he has limits on what he is willing to admit in public. Or perhaps he was merely afraid of legal action.

With that preface, here are the “Darth Vader” citations:

1. His post on negs

2. The comment by a reader of his blog that said, “If it wasn’t for the pussy, there would be a bounty on [women].”

* * *

The image at the top of this post is a 2005 episode from the webcomic Alien Loves Predator called “Dating Pointers“. In this episode, we see the Predator come into a room where the Alien is sitting on a couch.

PREDATOR: Rock the fuck on! Corinna’s gonna go out with me.

ALIEN: See! I told ya she’d call. Now I suppose you want some dating pointers.

PREDATOR: This’ll be good.

ALIEN: Girls like it when you use a fly swatter and give ’em a little swat on the cheek.

PREDATOR: No they don’t.

ALIEN: Hmm. Well, you must be doing it wrong.

PREDATOR: I’m not doing it wrong.

ALIEN: How do they react when you do it?

PREDATOR: I’m not —

ALIEN: Oh! You didn’t think I meant butt cheek, did you? That … that’d be inappropriate.

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Update: My book about pickup artists is now available for purchase, and you should totally buy it!

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Double update: This piece is included in my awesome collection, The S&M Feminist: Best Of Clarisse Thorn. You can buy The S&M Feminist for Amazon Kindle here or other ebook formats here or in paperback here.

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