Nathan Thompson has written an article for Vice Magazine called ‘Confessions Of An Ex-Pickup Artist‘ (July 28th 2014) where he describes attending a pickup “bootcamp” run by Gambler (Richard La Ruina) of PUA Training. While he concedes that pickup can yield positives such a confidence boost for those who are shy or socially-inept, and that a direct opener on cold approach actually won him a girlfriend, much of the piece denigrates the practice of pickup and draws into question many of its techniques and “psychological tricks.” Predictably, the article has generated a storm of social media comments both from feminists and manboobs who are naturally opposed to the notion of pickup, but also from members of the Roosh V Forum, who might—in theory at least—be more sympathetic to it.
Thomson reads The Game by Neil Strauss (a way in for many of us) before attending the bootcamp. His fellow students are “professional, normal-looking guys,” (i.e. not the creeps and weirdos that many of the commentators imagine). They are taught how to “set break”—infiltrate a group and began a conversation—and the “three second rule”—that is, to take action within three seconds of seeing an attractive female. They go to popular pickup hangout Tiger Tiger in in Piccadilly Circus to practice. Thomson notes that:
I felt liberated, as if I had been given permission to follow my instinct a bit more and approach the women I liked. I returned with two numbers (one of which wasn’t fake).
The class then tries some street approaches. Thomson states:
The PUA practice of approaching women in the street is sometimes confused with harassment. In my experience, most PUAs place great emphasis on politeness and consideration when making a cold approach—after all, they are trying to get laid so being aggressive wouldn’t be helpful. We were taught that if a woman is not interested we should always smile and be polite, even if she is rude—especially if she is rude because this trains us to be non-reactive.
But it turns out that the girls around “Pester Square” (Leicester Square) have been over-gamed. “God! You’re the third creepy guy who’s come up to me today saying that you ‘like my energy.’ Fuck off!” one tells Thomson.
It is at this point that Thomson launches a curious rejection of pickup that jars with what has gone before:
In my experience, PUA tactics don’t work. They don’t produce Bond-esque rogues but grotesque social robots whose jabbering mouths spout programming written by borderline sociopaths. It’s insulting to a woman’s intelligence to think that a sartorial spruce up and reciting some lines will win her affection.
Odd that these grotesque social robots were previously described as normal, professional-looking guys. Does talking to a few girls really effect such a fundamental personality change? Odd that ‘PUA tactics’ don’t work, given that the author has just obtained an attractive girl’s phone number through them.
Thomson goes on to say:
While self-styled “Pickup Gurus” like Strauss seem to have created one slick personality, the majority of PUAs appear hopelessly inauthentic. Bona fide seducers like Russell Brand are a rare breed whereas PUAs are like hoverflies; they wear the wasp’s colours but have no sting.
This I think we can all agree with. Doubtless, there are many less-than proficient dweebs out gaming in London, New York and L.A. right now. But such newbies may well improve and get better over time. Should we deny them the chance? Russell Brand himself reports being very shy as a boy. And anyway, there are plenty of bad golfers out there: no one questions the soundness of the practice of golf itself as a result.
Thomson then brings the ethics of game into question:
Add to that the fact their techniques are unethical. Manipulating people for your own selfish ends is enshrined in PUA culture—a “pivot” is a girl you use to raise your social status, “AMOGing” is a technique used to bully rivals away from girls you like and “boyfriend destroyers” are designed to lay a girl already in a relationship.
I would disagree that having an attractive female friend with you is unethical and I’m on the fence about AMOG-ing. Whether or not you attempt to lay a girl in a relationship is up to the individual. Personally I’d steer away from it. But it’s worth pointing out that here Thomson is attempting to apply an ethical standard to a milieu that is itself without ethics, driven as it is by biomechanics. Believe me, the girls of Tiger Tiger do not often display a high degree of ethical integrity either.
Thomson then touches on themes familiar to those who read manosphere sites like this one:
PUAs [have] a muddled appeal to evolutionary psychology, particularly the idea of “alpha” and “beta” males. Beta males are men who want to be with one woman and alphas are those with access to many. So the gold standard of success in the PUA community is the “MLTR” or “Multiple Long Term Relationship,” where a PUA has sexual relationships with multiple women at the same time.
Things get darker when you get to “relationship game.” Based on more evolutionary psychology, some PUAs believe that all women are subconsciously trying to entrap them in long-term relationships, a process they call “betaisation.” Tactics to avoid betaisation involve refusing intimacy (which basically means you can only do “hard fucking” only) and freezing-out partners while you focus on seducing other women (called “nexting”). This is the sad heart of the culture—where insecure men form relationships with women, who allow themselves to be mistreated.
This takes the discussion into a whole other area which Thomson does not develop in his article (to be fair, he probably doesn’t have space to). Sure, this view of relationships is dark—but no-one said life was one long party. The value of men discussing these issues and passing on their experiences is that it enables them to make more informed decisions. No-one is forcing anyone to ‘next’ a girl they really like, or to mistreat anyone. Armed with greater clarity, each man must make his own choices on how to proceed.
Thomson finishes up more positively:
For me, it wasn’t all bad. I still get mileage from a tactic known as “the direct approach.” The verbal formula goes something like this: “Hi excuse me, I don’t usually do this but I think you are really hot and I would be kicking myself if I didn’t come up and introduce myself.” In fact, I met my last girlfriend this way. But I’m sure it had little to do with the words and more to do with the authenticity that comes with maturity and the fact she digs writers.
Fine—but authenticity, or being your best self, and concentrating on developing your passions (writing, in Thomson’s case) is what most modern pickup resources teach men to do. It seems disingenuous—and somewhat ungrateful—for Thomson to write a click-bait article denigrating a practice that not only worked, but actually got him a girlfriend.
Pick-up – or meeting women from cold-approach – is a form of behavior guaranteed to get a lot of people’s backs up. For feminists and those men who seek to appease them, there is something “creepy” or even “rapey” about the idea of systematically approaching women in large numbers with the express intention of having sex with them. As one male commentator on the Vice story eloquently put it: “Rapey cunts.” But this is disingenuous for the simple reason that any man hating on pickup artists would, in common with them, also like to have sex with a high number of young attractive women, but lacks the inclination to put in the necessary work or face the inevitable high-level of rejection involved. Similarly, I suspect that most girls who criticise pickup would love it if a guy to her taste walked up and told her he would love to meet her on the morning commute, but only if it ‘just happened.’
It is the systematic aspect of pickup that sets people’s teeth on edge. Of course, as any player will attest, it very rarely “just happens.” As women are for the most part the gatekeepers of sex, men without fame or exceptional good looks who wish to sleep with a lot of them must mass approach in order to sharpen their charisma and technique, and in order to find those few who are most receptive to their approach. Women, who seek to optimise their hypergamy by screening for the highest quality males, are naturally suspicious of any method that seeks to short circuit what they believe should be the natural way of things. That is, that men should audition passively like puppies at a dog show, with the women in control as judges bestowing ribbons only on those they find most appealing.
Many people of both sexes also have an issue with men having to pay to get good with women. One male commentator on the Vice story recounts how a “geek” he used to know paid over $1000 for pick-up training. Actually, bootcamp fees of over $3000 are not unusual these days. I have never met Richard la Ruina, nor have I taken one of his courses, so I can’t comment on his company’s services. I have however seen a few of his videos, which seem to offer value, and I have it on good authority from a friend that he is solid. But this is somewhat beside the point. The accepted narrative socially is that men should just get it. Anyone who has to pay to learn to get good with women is a geek, a weirdo, a creep, and probably a rapist as well. But this is patently ridiculous. If you want to get good at coding, you go and take a coding course. Women, who don’t have to approach or initiate relationships, and who also don’t have to deal with the vacillations and evasions of their own gender, will never fully understand the difficulties the average man has in successfully attracting them and dealing with them. All men are aware of this on some level, but those who seek to protect their own egos and “good with women” self-image, or those who are simply naturals will also hate on pickup courses to appease girls and to try to fit in with the the predominant PC culture.
There was suspicion too on the Roosh V forum this week, where users are clearly more naturally inclined towards game. This largely centered on the use of the term “PUA,” which some considered outdated. “Deluge” stated:
I’m surprised these Mystery Method era “PUA” coaches still exist. If my only exposure to game was through one of these guys, I’d hate on it too.
My personal feeling is that there is undue suspicion from the manosphere on more commercial game organizations, and that basically we are all on the same side. I’m not personally aware of any company in 2014 that advocates negging, wearing eyeliner and feather boas and doing card tricks to pull girls. The message across the board is about understanding female psychology and becoming the best man you can be. Watch some of Tyler from RSD’s recent videos and you’ll see that they are extremely red pill in nature, and all advocate self-development. For me, the manosphere diagnoses the problem and game provides the solution (or the best available solution, anyway). Whether or not you choose to drop a load of cash on a bootcamp is up to you, but bear in mind that personal tuition has helped many thousands of guys get over their insecurities and get better with women. Rather than in-fighting, I think men should be glad that we have access to so many diverse resources today, commercial or otherwise.
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