First, the thing about earnestness being less effective in sexual/romantic success than deception: it’s insane to me that you think it’s just WOMEN who respond to deception. Much to the chagrin of earnest feminists like me, there are tons of workshops and self-help books telling women to stop being so damn earnest and essentially training them to manipulate unsuspecting men into relationships and marriages. Apparently, these “systems” are enormously successful, too. Just to be extra clear, I’m not here to celebrate the deception just because it goes both ways. I find the “how to make him fall in love with you” crap just as depressing as your “seduction community.” I wish there was more honest, good-faith communication between the sexes. Maybe Todd is right, most people are just stupid. But I am not ready to give up hope….
Second, I think what’s interesting about your complaint that women expect you to “cut them more slack” than men is that women say exactly that about men. Like many straight women, I have often felt that men expect to be accommodated and to get their way all the time, at my expense. But just because I “felt” it, I don’t assume I am correct. I don’t think you’re correct about women either. And I don’t think that means one or both of us is irrational. I just think it’s a perception gap.
I suspect gender differences play into this, to a considerable degree. That means we respond to some things differently from you. It doesn’t mean we’re asking for “more slack” — at least no more slack than YOU ask of us (unwittingly, I’m sure). Take for example, Todd’s assertion that women cry as an “emotional manipulation” strategy. Similarly, a lot of women think men become withdrawn and unresponsive in the middle of a conversation (“it’s like hitting my head against a brick wall”) as a bullying tactic. I am sure there are examples where both of these things are intentionally employed as tactics. But for the most part, women aren’t trying to manipulate you when they cry and men aren’t trying to bully us when they shut down. We just respond to frustration differently.
But I don’t think it’s JUST the gender differences. I’ve had lots of male friends and lots of mixed-gender friend circles, so I can tell you that men and women who are platonic friends don’t generally have the same complaints about each other that they do about people they date. I wonder if certain complex needs, emotions, conflicts, etc. aren’t simply inherent in sexual/romantic relationships, regardless of gender. Just ask any gay couple — they seem to have many of the same problems. People have to accommodate mates in ways they don’t need to accommodate friends. These relationships have a different quality of intimacy and trust that seems to require more understanding (“slack” if you will). My friends are extremely important to me and when necessary, I am perfectly willing to cut them a lot of slack, but they generally don’t need it as much (or as regularly) as any of my boyfriends have needed. And the boyfriends could probably say something equivalent about me. (The exception, so far, is my current boyfriend, Todd Seavey — yes, I’m Todd’s liberal, feminist girlfriend — because we seem to share an almost identical joy of hashing out all our differences earnestly. But, if and when the need arises, I’ll be more than happy to cut him some slack, because I trust his good intentions).
Like I said, there seems to be a perception gap between the sexes, which is exacerbated by the existence of assholes (on both sides) and by people’s tendencies to lash out and think the worst others. Those of us who end up being able to relate to the opposite sex without condescending to them, despite having been seriously exasperated by them, do so as a result of some self awareness, a genuine openness to the other’s point of view and a little patience.
If someone — a woman-was really patient with you and open to hearing you out, I think you would feel differently about women and be able to discern the neurotic assholes from the rest of us. But, it’s hard to be open to you when you’ve decided that we’re all irrational and not worth engaging in good faith. Just like women who accuse all men of being misogynists and potential rapists can’t reasonably expect men to sympathize with their position. I understand that your venom comes from bad experiences with women. Believe me, most of male bashing also grows out of the bashers’ personal wounds, dealt (or perceived to have been dealt) by men. These are not good reasons to advocate cutting off the conversation, although I am in no way callous about the scars that you (and the male bashers) have obviously sustained. I hope you will all find ways to heal from them. I’m a romantic, so I also hope all of you will fall in love with someone wonderful any day now!
As far as the “seduction community,” I’m glad to hear that their methods are at least getting you laid, although they have failed to help you with the full relationship you had obviously hoped to find. But I wonder, if this is really working, even just for sex, then why do you have to be grateful for prostitution and porn?
In any case, I’ll take you at your word that your “porking” success rate has improved since you got seduction training. In the same spirit, I trust you will take my word that I have a large circle of women friends who easily are 9s and 10s, are constantly hit on by men, and none of them accept the advances of guys who treat them with disrespect, already have girlfriends, or are full of themselves (confidence and arrogance are not the same thing). And no, my friends aren’t lying to me. I KNOW their dates, boyfriends and husbands. They are the kindest, most decent men you’ll ever meet.
I won’t try to put a number on my own hotness, but I must be passably attractive, since I usually don’t want for male attention (at least when I feel confident and good about myself) and yet — and now I’m asking you to take MY word for it — I have always chosen to be with guys who are good human beings. Certainly, I like a guy who is also “confident and feels good about himself” and is — preferably — some combination of good looking, smart, interesting and funny, AS WELL AS a nice guy. (why do people say “nice guys” when they really mean unattractive, insecure, boring guys who have nothing to recommend them except their alleged “niceness”?) I don’t see how any of my criteria are “irrational” just because they don’t begin and end with “nice.” And no, I’m not just “steering” my sexuality consciously. I’m telling you about my visceral reactions to different kinds of men. An attractive (even a moderately attractive) guy, who is really smart, and genuinely kind and seems to sincerely like and admire me, is a HUGE turn on for me. Arrogant, self-centered men simply turn me off even if they are hunky, smart etc. A whiney, insecure guy doesn’t turn me off quite the same way, but he will never turn me on just by being “nice”. Being nice is a threshold requirement of decent human interaction, not some amazing virtue deserving of special rewards. Most women don’t expect to be rewarded with tons of romantic attention just for being “nice” people.
Yes, there are women out there who are cock-whipped by arrogant, self-centered males, but there are also plenty of guys who are pussy-whipped by arrogant, self-centered females -so this doesn’t really say anything meaningful about the “mating drives” of either sex. (On a related note: Peter claims that women “won’t come to grips” with their mating drives, as opposed to men, who know what they are looking for, which is simply “looks and loyalty.” Really? Care to check out Todd’s “Personal Ad”? Also, if “looks and loyalty” are all Peter is looking for, then, what’s his problem? Why does it matter to him if women are “rational”?)
Of course, there is also the type of woman who just won’t care what kind of person you are or if you are already in a relationship; she’ll want you just because you turn her on sexually. Well, given that MEN behave this way much more regularly — and even brag about it — than women, I find it puzzling that you see this as an example of FEMALE irrationality.
If I may offer a suggestion to Peter and other men who feel the same way, consider this: when you bemoan the fact that “women” are irrational, unresponsive to kindness, and whatever other complaint you have, are you really sampling from the general population of women in your acquaintance? Or do you start with the 9s and 10s (scored that way based on characteristics completely unrelated to the things you are complaining about)? In other words what do you screen for FIRST? If you start by pre-selecting the hottest women around and then lament the low occurrence among them of all those other qualities you seek -well, that’s not really the most “rational” way to go about things, is it? I’m not saying beautiful women can’t be smart, sane, kind and earnest. I’m just saying if your selection criteria are prioritized to place the highest value on X, then your results will be skewed toward more X, and the co-incidence of Y, Z and W will be much more random.
By the way, I checked out (briefly) the two seduction sites that Peter linked to. Of course, the focus of these are ultimately manipulative and therefore distasteful to me, and we (at least the women) have no way of verifying their claims — they have a product to sell to desperate people (just like fad diets that “work”). Still, even assuming the veracity of their claims about results, when you see the type of specific advice that apparently has actually succeeded, it does not seem to support Peter’s conclusion that they work because women are “inherently irrational”.
I have four general areas of observation:
1. One bottom line principle behind these seduction techniques is that you have to (comfortably) exude some sexuality (i.e. flirt) in order for women to respond to you sexually. Well, no shit! Where is the “irrationality” in this? How is someone supposed to find you sexual if you don’t exhibit any sign of it? Interestingly, I found this principle set forth in an entry about the old “nice guy v. jerks” debate. Ladies, you will be relieved to hear that even these seductionist cads admit, very clearly, that women don’t pick “jerk” qualities (rudeness, arrogance, boorishness etc.) over “nice guy” qualities, but rather, that this misunderstanding comes from the fact that the self-proclaimed nice –guys are confusing “niceness” with androgyny and asexuality. My own 2 cents: if you can’t be sexual without being rude, arrogant or boorish, then maybe you’re not such a “nice” guy.
But I’m really not suggesting that all guys with the “nice guy” complaint are latent boors. Some just lack other things women want. And others have honestly come to believe that all sexual behavior they initiate will be somehow offensive to women. I have to lay some of the responsibility for this on certain of my fellow feminists, who have promoted this idea of associating any expression of male sexuality with “violence” and “aggression” and led some good men (like Peter, perhaps) to internalize the notion that flirting is “disrespectful”. I (and a lot of other feminists) summarily reject this notion, but many feminists do endorse it — and I think they are rightly criticized for it.
Incidentally, there’s a pretty widespread belief among a sizable minority of women — usually not feminists — who bemoan the scarcity of “good men”: that men don’t appreciate a good, loyal woman; that it’s those narcissistic, selfish, bitchy women that get all the guys; that to get a man to be loyal and treat you well, you have to be cruel and treat him like crap and keep him insecure about your relationship. In other words “nice girls finish last.” I think these perceptions, just like the “nice guy” problem have less to do with reality than with resentful interpretations of reality.
2. Another key insight shared on the seduction sites is that women find confidence attractive. What’s “irrational” about that? Unless you are confusing confidence with arrogance, rudeness, or boorishness?
By the way, men respond to confidence in women too. Men and women are socialized (or perhaps biologically wired) to convey it differently, but it’s important for both to have it. Notice the way Peter describes the behavior of the “10″ — that’s some serious alpha-female shit! And frankly, in these discussions, when men say “women” they completely leave out of the equation all those mousy, insecure, “nice” women who are sitting in a corner (or at home), pining away for some Mr. Nice Guy to come rescue them. The women these men are “gaming” are the ones that are out there, confident in their sexuality, laughing, dancing, flirting, acting like they own the world. Yes, men are visual, and one of the most important visual cues they respond to is confident body language. The hot girl who also knows she’s hot will get the most guys. Of course confidence doesn’t quite make up for being ugly, but NOT having confidence will doom a mousy girl to be overlooked forever, even if she is technically “pretty.” A girl who is less pretty will be noticed and actually will be considered “hotter” if she cultivates a sense of self or at least a certain look, posture and stride.
I’ve gone through periods of insecurity in my own life -for reasons unrelated to men or sex-but during those periods, suddenly it seemed nobody was attracted to me. As soon as I snapped out of it, stopped caring what anyone thought and went about being myself and rediscovering my joie de vivre, the men came back out of the woodwork trying to get me to notice them. Even though I looked exactly the same. (disclaimer: I belong to a special subspecies of humans, called “nerds” –our mating rituals may be a little different from the rest. Still, I think we can draw parallels).
3. Another general approach of seduction seems to be that instead of complimenting a woman, you make fun of her a little. The claim is that women respond to being demeaned and having their confidence eroded. But lets look at how the specific tactics worked, at least in the video examples I saw. One guy went up and started insulting women. No woman responded well to him. They couldn’t get away from him fast enough. Another guy went up to a really hot girl and said her teeth were cute, like “bugs bunny”. She found him endearing. But note that he was smiling, his body language was friendly and just a little suggestive without being threatening. His comment charmed because it was unexpected (and funny) and seemed unrehearsed. Part of the reason it’s funny is precisely that it seems like an utterly ridiculous pick up strategy. Like George Costanza telling women he’s unemployed and lives with his mother. It has a novelty. And women like guys who are willing to expose themselves that way. Of course, the unemployed-lives-with-mother line will only work if it’s obviously a joke! And I think “bugs bunny” knew she was being joshed with and not insulted for real. To think a gorgeous woman with no dearth of male attention will have her sexual confidence “eroded” based on a stupid comment from a stranger is laughable. Maybe a guy who needs seduction training to find a date has a self image flimsy enough to be swayed this way, but the 9 or 10 he’s “gaming” is probably more secure than that.
4. Some of the other suggestions on the seduction sites are simply manipulation and deception tactics. They have nothing to do with women’s “mating drives.” If you misrepresent who you are and I buy it, that just means I am trusting or gullible. It doesn’t mean I enjoy being deceived or that the fact of being deceived is what I am responding to.
For example, one piece of advice was to lull a woman into a false sense of bonding with you by pretending to be a platonic friend while you get her to talk about her sexual fantasies. Apparently this works.
One reason that a woman may respond to this (and for argument’s sake lets grant that some women do) is that she notices how comfortable she is with you. In other words, she is being turned on by a nice-guy quality. To her, you’re a nice, “easy to talk to” guy who is not asexual and the talk is sexually charged. The fact that this turns her on should make you reject (or at least question) the notion that she is looking for a jerk to demean her. If you choose to think that it’s the fact that you’re actually a deceiver pretending to be a friend that’s the real turn on (as opposed to the sexy talk and the comfortable rapport with you) then it’s your interpretation that’s irrational. Not the chick.
Another reasonable interpretation is that she is turned on by her own sexual thoughts, but the object of her fantasy isn’t available, so she’ll act out her lust on you, as you happen to be around. I don’t see why this should be derision-worthy. If anything, men should identify with this kind of behavior. After all, it’s fairly common for men to admit that when they are horny, they will have sex with any available female, regardless of who they are actually fantasizing about.
One last note about seduction: women have always very successfully used “feminine wiles” and insincere seduction tricks on men too, does that mean men are “inherently irrational”?
And Todd here again, with a concluding note: another issue of dating symmetry and asymmetry will be hashed out in the next of our Debates at Lolita Bar (266 Broome St. at Allen St. on Manhattan’s Lower East Side) at 8pm on Wednesday, June 20, when “Rev. Jen” Miller and Rules for Saying Goodbye author Katherine Taylor (who’s also a libertarian — maybe she’s voting for Ron Paul in the primaries, too!) ask “Is It More Painful to Get Dumped or to Do the Dumping?” I’ll host (and Michel Evanchik will moderate), so by all means come by and debate all these interrelated topics if you like.