A Pick Up Artist or PUA is a member of a subculture (the Seduction Community) that teaches men tactics to seduce women.
Feminist critiques of Pick Up Artistry include:
- some of the stereotypes of women promoted are quite sexist and racist
- many PUA techniques treat women as almost completely interchangable with each other
- many PUAs themselves treat women as almost completely interchangable with each other
- many PUAs see the community as a game where they compete with other men for who can seduce the most women (which is reinforced with terms like "player" and "score")
- some PUA techniques and PUAs themselves are actively predatory and abusive
- many PUA techniques rely on heterocentric assumptions
Pick Up Artist claims
PUA "techniques" are generally based on stereotypical views of the role of men and women in relationships with a general dose of pseudopsychology. They often refer to PUA techniques as "game". Examples include:
- Negging, or "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen". The idea is to make hostile or negative comments to undermine her self-esteem, thereby making her more likely to settle for a less appealing partner or become desperate for affection.
- Kino Escalation. The "seducer" attempts to subtly move into the "target's" intimate personal space, thereby "escalating" from casual conversation to light touching to intimate touching to sexual contact without being noticed, thereby avoiding "token resistance".
- Saying her name repeatedly. Supposedly, women care only about themselves, so saying her name over and over will "prime" her to think that the interaction is all about her and create a false sense of closeness, which will make her feel like the situation is more intimate than it really is.
It should be self-evident why these behaviors are deeply problematic.
Pick up artists often appeal to pop evo-psych and a view of gender roles bordering on fantasy. For instance, a common claim is that pickup artistry is necessary to protect oneself from becoming a "beta male", and thereby losing opportunities for sex to "alpha males". Alternatively, a man may need to employ his game to prevent the loss of his partner to hypergamy, the supposed tendency of women to invariably be drawn inexorably to men of higher social and economic status, based on a view that women only have sex when they expect to be rewarded with some tangible benefit.
A man may also need to have game in order to prevent his partner from cheating on him. It is claimed that women will seek out "beta" males for stable relationships for the material benefits (money, social status) but will still seek out "alpha" men for sex and reproductive purposes. In the PUA and broader manosphere community, this is referred to as "cuckoldry", and it usually comes with a staggering amount of racism, based on claims that black men are supposedly more well-endowed and singularly driven to "outbreed" the white race.
Harmfulness to men
It should go without saying that pickup artistry is extremely toxic and encourages behaviors and philosophies that are denigrating and outright dangerous to women. At the same time, the harm that the PUA community can inflict on men should not be discounted.
- A defining feature of pickup artist community leaders is that they do not make their "techniques" available for free. Aspiring PUAs will be directed to purchase numerous books on the subject or to attend seminars where ticket prices can be in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
- Pickup artists often advertise to young men who are socially awkward, have a history of painful rejections or other bad experiences with women, have anxieties about women and dating, or who are otherwise still learning how to pursue romantic or intimate relationships. As such, they may lack the maturity to understand why they should not engage in these behaviors, and doing so may result in a tarnished social reputation at best and legal penalties at worst.
- Emphasis on traditionally masculine appearance and sexual prowess, makes a fertile ground for instructors to profit from auxiliary products, usually priced high, and of little to negative effect.
- The emphasis on appearance, sexual prowess, and accesos zaira Álvaro in the "game", causes and exacerbates issues with perceived self worth and body image.
- Pressure to "score" in pursuing women based on their outward appearance, cements thoroughly objectifying and misogynist attitudes about women, discouraging PUAs from empathy towards and deeper personal connection with women, inhibiting emotional and social skill growth, potentially making him dependent on PUA systems as his only learned way to try and pursue romance and/or sex.
In short, pickup artists con vulnerable men out of large amounts of money with no regard for the long-term consequences to their mental and social health, or the consequences to women when men attempt to try to use PUA techniques.
The PUA scene does share some features with destructive cults:
- Extreme division between "us and them", "us" being the PUA community, "them" consisting of the separate groups of "women" (painted as fickle and untrustworthy, animal-like targets), and "beta males" (painted as worthless losers).
- Targeting the vulnerable.
- Exceedingly narrow worldview, black-and-white thinking, dividing things in starkly contrasting categories. Insistence that PUA philosophy and techniques cannot be used in moderation or electively; you're either an "alpha winner or a beta loser".
- Pressure into conformity within community standards, ridicule and discrediting of those who disagree and/or leave.
- Presenting the system as secret knowledge, ancient/esoteric wisdom, insider club. Implication or explicit claims that PUA is the only worthwhile way to interact with women.
- Intolerance of challenging or disagreeing with the 'techniques'. Discouragement of critical discussion. Invoking ad hominem and no true Scotsman on those who do.
- Reliance on initiation procedures and investment fallacy/bias. Instructors will not give away their "techniques" for free, and "initiation" requires purchase of costly books, seminars, courses or workshops. Methods likely to arouse suspicion or protest in the newly initiated will be reserved for "advanced" material.
- Grandiose promises, as in "seduce any woman you want in 10 minutes!", or techniques that are "biologically"/"psychologically"/"scientifically" infallible
- Culture of placing the blame of failure onto the PUA himself and/or his targets.
- Detrimental Attitudes of the Pickup Artist Community
- RationalWiki's excellent article on the PUA community.
- tigtog discusses the abusive history and techniques of PUA Dimitri The Lover/James Sears
- "… what tends to happen in the Community is that one gender-stereotype is replaced with another: women as fickle, emotional, selfish and easily manipulated. The idea that sex demeans women remains, but is recast as sluts deserve to be demeaned."