This is a guest post by Clarisse Thorn, who normally blogs at Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism. It was originally posted in slightly different form at Clarisse’s “Love Bites” Time Out Chicago blog.
Oh Lord. Okay, so the recent shooting by well-known pickup artist Gunwitch has already been covered by Jezebel and other sites. I think that Gunwitch’s messed up attitudes about women are reflected in some parts of the pickup artist community. But I don’t think all pickup artists are represented by Gunwitch.
Let’s take a look at a quotation from one of Gunwitch’s pickup manuals:
Your initial state when seeing women you want is very important: the right one will cause you to approach them, the wrong one will panic and confuse you – preventing you from taking any action to ever meet them. If you do not meet them you almost certainly CANNOT have sex with them. Your internal state when you first see an attractive woman must be one of sexual enthusiasm, horniness, and unapologetic desire. NOT one of panic and wonder of what to do or what to say. When you first see your lone wolf, in a bar, a coffee house, a dept store, a bank, the gym -ANYWHERE – (I like the magazine racks at dept stores, where I can stand there and wait ’til some Cosmo magazine reading hottie comes into what feels to her like your space, and feels like she’s approaching, then boom I’m on it “so what ya reading?”), anyway ANYWHERE you see them you must imagine having sex with her, visualize it, feel the desire and lust. ALWAYS do this as soon as you see a woman you find attractive and eventually the state you will go into when seeing a woman will be one of -sexual- state, rather than panic or fear of meeting her. This makes approaching random lone women easier. Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer/sociopath didn’t feel fear or panic when he saw a target. He felt rage, sexual perversion and desire to kill, hence NO fear to approach them, of course wanting to have sex isn’t the same thing, but its still more effective than feeling fear or confusion about your desires and direction.
Now, of course I have sympathy for people who feel nervous approaching other people. In fact, I’ve written at least one entire article on how trying to pick people up is hard (and yes, the process can be just as hard for women as it is for men). However, the solution to defeating your anxiety about interacting with the opposite sex is not to destroy your own morality. Using Ted Bundy as a good model for approaching women is, to put it mildly, completely messed up.
I once spoke to a pickup artist who estimated that 60-80% of dudes who get into the pickup community do it because they are decent guys with serious social anxiety … but that 20-40% are guys who feel a lot of anger and misogyny and are trying to find ways to hurt women. Gunwitch, with his Ted Bundy ideas and others (the tagline for the Gunwitch school of thought is — wait for it — “make the ho say no”), is clearly very far on one end of this continuum. I would hope that most of the pickup community is on a very different place in the continuum.
Unfortunately, many pickup artists have actually been defending his actions with lines like “Im sure Gun has a perfectly good reason for shooting that girl in the face” (here’s one source). To which I literally have no response but stunned horror. A lot of pickup artists’ reactions are more reasonable, e.g., “Fuck you, Gunwitch”. But how many are attacking Gunwitch’s actions and how many are being quiet about it, or even supporting Gunwitch?
The pickup subculture freaks me out a lot of the time, and frankly I’ve had hours of pickup artist research where I have read what these men have to say and felt like I wanted to take a vow of chastity rather than ever risk having sex with one of them, ever. But I think there’s good in the subculture; in particular, there’s some amazing analysis out there, such as this fascinating post by Hugh Ristik: The Seduction Community, and Throwing Out The Baby. Still, damn. News like this is awfully hard to stomach.
For me, this scandal has crystallized one question: How much of the pickup artist subculture is useful advice for socially anxious guys, and how much of it is misogynist assholery that can arguably be connected to violence against women? I don’t think it’s possible to understand that subculture without recognizing that both those elements are present.
Now, I’m not saying that feminism should extend the olive branch to pickup-artist-world, and that we can All Be Happy Shiny Friends. There are a lot of serious issues with the pickup artist subculture that are worth analyzing. But there is also a big difference between socially anxious guys who need advice on how to interact with other people, and psychopaths who shoot women in the head. One of these days I’m going to write a whole article about my impressions of the pickup artist community … but for now, I’ll just settle for noting that difference.
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